Photo taken by Natalie McDonagh of jacaranda tree with purple flowers stern on a footpath

Photo: Natalie McDonagh, 2013. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK

The sunset and the purple-flowered tree

I talk to a screen who assures me everything is fine.

I am not broken. I am not depressed. I am simply

in touch with the material conditions of my life. It is

the end of the world, and it’s fine. People laugh

about this, self-soothing engines sputtering

through a nosedive. Not me. I’ve gone and lost my

sense of humor when I need it most. This is why I

speak smoke into a scene. I dance against language

and abandon verse halfway through, like a broken-

throated singer. I wander around the front yard,

pathless as a little ant at the tip of a curled-up

cactus. Birds flit in and out of shining branches.

A garden blooms large in my throat. Color and life

conspire against my idea of the world. I have to

laugh until I am crying, make an ocean to land

upon in this sea of flames. Here I am.

Another late-winter afternoon,

the sunset and the purple-flowered tree

trying their best to keep me alive.


Joshua Jennifer Spinoza, 2022. The sunset and the purple-flowered tree. Originally published in Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets