Four separate poems are emerging from the “Little Evening Lily” sketch. They are variations on the same theme, born from the many stanza experiments whilst developing the composition.
It should come as no surprise that there is such an outpouring of verse on the subject—the lily in question, Gladiolus liliaceus, is my favourite flower1—but, I am nonetheless amazed.
I am also intimidated, as I wonder whether the four poems will be worthy of their subject, and frustrated, as this further delays the anthology’s completion (likely by four months, given my pace)2.
If I might do a little introspection: I associate Gladiolus liliaceus with the joy of my mother in spring (September to November in my country, South Africa) when it appears in the wild. Moreover, it evokes the happiest time of my childhood at age eight and nine in the Babilonstoring Valley—of which I have written before in “This September”, “This October”, “This November” and “A Return to the Valley”—when I recall her displaying the lilies on the kitchen table of the little labourer’s cottage we inhabited at the time, its intoxicating fragrance filling the room at night.
It is late spring in the Overberg (the southernmost region of South Africa) and whilst many waysides yet are in bloom1, others are high with wild oats. In the early evening, they sway in the breeze as the sun makes gold of the stubble on the hills.
On Friday (13 November 2020), when the photograph below was taken, I happened upon a swath of Lobelia erinus, Ornithogalum strictum and even Micranthus tubulosus.
South Africa is in the midst of spring, and there is no end to the flowers.1 Every few weeks, there are new arrangements of shape, size and colour at the waysides that come and go in turn.
Some sparkle on shrubs that in every other season give nothing away of their splendour. Some burst from bulbs straight from the ground—just stem, no leaves at all. Some flutter gently amid the grasses—shy, though they need not be so.
Some dazzle with striking colour, insisting one stops and stares. Some are strange, barely recognisable as what they are—for that reason, all the more lovely. Some are so small that on hands and knees one must descend to see them at all.
Were I to catalogue every species I have seen this season, my updates would be frequent and long, but permit me one more occasion to show some of the specimens that now are in bloom:
Or wild animals: late Thursday afternoon, I saw for the first time a pair of Otocyon megalotis, Bat-eared foxes! I regret I was not able to photograph them.