Jacaranda (Is It, Then, Enough?)

They call the jacaranda the Christmas tree, the flowers cascading from her branches, Christmas flowers. She bursts into flame as Christmas draws near: a purple canopy of blinding extravagance. Her generosity carpets the ground, a brilliant blanket of purple flowers.

what if
the question is the answer

and the longing is the praise
what if

the dull ache in the belly
is the love You bled first

what if
chasing the dawn

is You on the heels
what if

absence is the truth of presence
and is it,

then, Enough?

I know not why bodies betray. Why wombs and arms are empty after years of longing and asking. Why mine should be different than hers, me less qualified, less worthy, and my arms and house and head and heart full, full, full. I know not why the answer is always: wait. Hope. Wait.

I know not why eyes lose the light. Why minds go cloudy and dark. Why genes take over and storms arise and hearts contract into small, hard spaces. I know not why the answer is always: wait. Hope. Wait.

I know not why cultures lose all bonds of goodness. Why in the dark of the night or the full noon sun, girls are not safe. Why my girls shall not know this, but her girls will. And hers. And her’s. And hers. I know not why the answer is always, inadequately, agonizingly, impossibly: wait. Hope. Wait.

These even within arms reach and my mind can’t hold the refugee making the last choice, the hunger in the belly when a river won’t flood, the too-routine sorrow of mothers, fathers crying out for sons, daughters stolen by the end of another (another!) barrel of steel. And this no small failure: to only hold so much sorrow, to let the rest fall away in the rush of school pick-up, laundry dripping on the line, chopping onions to sauté for dinner.

Age-old questions. Age-old weak answers. I won’t apologize for asking. I won’t wonder if I should be wiser yet, to bite the bitter ‘why’ off at the tongue. I’ll fling the questions as high as I can, against a steel gray sky, against a robin-blue abyss, against the clouds building and building and floating away, against a diamond-pricked ink canvas. The heavens declare, the heavens declare, the heavens declare…

I’ve heard it said roads will be paved with gold. This I can’t believe. Instead, I believe in a carpet of jacaranda flowers, radiantly purple, blazingly purple, achingly purple. I believe in longing bursting forth from the end of spindly branches, grace showering down in a storm of Christmas flowers. I believe in a truth of extravagant generosity. I believe in what is to come, yes, but still more I believe in now, because this morning, I step out my door to run in the blue-gray dawn, I wind the slopes of Mt. Meru, I listen for the whoosh of the hornbill’s flight and

Run slowly under the jacaranda

  squint ever-weak eyes

  shade her blinding brilliance

  tread softly on her excess

a blanket of purple under aching, heavy feet.

Photo Credit: adapted from quixoticlife via Compfight cc


  1. Amy Young December 15, 2015

    what if
    the question is the answer

    I love this. It’s an echo ringing within me right now. Thanks Joanna.

    1. Elizabeth December 16, 2015

      Amy, I was just thinking this week, wondering about things that are so very unclear, thinking, God, why didn’t you make it clearer?? And then wondering, well, if He cared so much about the answers, then maybe it would be more clear. So maybe the questions ARE enough, maybe the absence IS the presence, just like is written here.

      1. Lainey February 9, 2016

        Thanks for shnairg. What a pleasure to read!

  2. Michele Womble December 15, 2015

    oh, this is so beautiful!

    “I’ve heard it said roads will be paved with gold. This I can’t believe. Instead, I believe in a carpet of jacaranda flowers, radiantly purple….”

    I would love a carpet of jacaranda flowers.

    Maybe…the road paved with gold was…yellow dandelions, soft and bright.

    “what if …the longing is the praise” 

    I think it is.

    I’m picturing you now, running beneath the jacaranda trees on an “achingly purple” carpet.

  3. Leanne Hansard December 15, 2015

    Thank you. My heart full of longing and hope and questions of WHY, thanks you.

  4. Leslie Verner December 16, 2015

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your poetry with us.

  5. Ellie December 16, 2015

    Beautiful, haunting, powerful. *Thank you!*

  6. Elizabeth December 16, 2015

    what if the question is the answer and the longing is the praise”

    Wow. Thank you for this. Expresses so well things I’ve wondered, that God-ache, and what it really means.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.