[Full screen + wine + the patience of a long evening is advised.]
Meanwhile, like the grace of God, we are surrounded by the luminous world and we seldom see it….
Across panduriform pale angiosperm on mirrored peltate falls,
While near the placid lotus pollen mists the purple shoots.
Between the black bees’ fecund cells the lank lobilla nods
To our bark boats’ khakied passengers adrift within the dawn
Past palisades of jade arcades where three white peacocks nest
To watch the blooming shadows splash each feathered parchment breast,
And pods of chocolate, bursting, plop down through the humused air.
The river’s surface mists, then stills. Ivory roots press into loam.
Below, the moon-orange carp defends its’ clutch of amber eggs.
Above, the lynx with opal eyes creeps out along his limb.
Nearby some agate claws scrape soft on deliquescent stone.
We float upon the river’s skin, moved by gusts of will and whim,
And soothe our minds by naming names, and tell ourselves we have come home.
Trillium and lush gentian, adderstongue and ficus.
Scarlet gowns amaze the green, reveal the adamantine
Wall that girds the grand escarpment of the ferns,
Its surface bound by misted fronds laced up with waxen vines,
Which part around a bamboo tube that gives a muffled phut —
Then the sting of feathered dart, the rapid pad of fleeing feet,
The rustle in the treetops that cannot be the wind.
The earth-smeared limbs unfold before the naked loins,
The tribe-inflicted scars, the shadowed almond eyes.
All sound amid the trees resolves to water over stone.
We stare into the stilling pond cupped among the leaves,
And see a face of beaten gold emerge to meet our gaze
With eyes that in their hunted depths prove to be our own.
Peregrine and excelsea, goshawk and hyacinth.
Shards of sunlight, blizzards of shadow, mountains of mist.
The hewn stone bower where the bronze arms lift
Out over the sheen and the haze and the shift
Of that river where daily we drift on the flow
For the classing of birds, the scaling of trees,
The correction of maps, and the casting of coins
Into the bush to lure to our lenses those faces
Whose eyes we once measured with light from our own,
To put to them questions concerning the place
Where the wild lilies rot and the frog’s bulging brows
Make the moss tremble with the tendrils of dream.
Thus we glide near the bank and call out at first light.
The jaguar’s eyes and uncut gems enticed us from the camp,
Out along the dwindling trail that grazed the sleeping trunks,
Then wound beneath the rising roots that leached the stifling air,
Beyond the glade where each leaf cupped one perfect crystal sphere,
And pranced us on through that dim maze where the very trees advanced,
Where vaulted leaves absorbed the light and hidden hands drew back
The tapestry of lianas to the rhythm of whispered chants,
Revealing carven dancers clad in clinging leaf and vine,
Given over all to roots’ attack and patient, flaking time.
In such damp chains they struggled still as if they wished to lunge
Towards the ancient music of sharpened stone’s suspended plunge,
To hear the young girl’s frozen shriek, to obey the priest’s command,
And taste within their riven wall the pulsing heart in the crimson hand.
Exaltata and puffballs’ spores, aluminum daubed on jade.
The purple bulbs of oozing figs’ tumescent summer plunder.
Magenta rain that flecks and feeds the calm insatiate glade.
The shimmered wings that soar and swarm within the thunder
To light the trees where all our children sleep arrayed
In a flush of silken flowers and wet with rooted wonder.
Their blue-veined faces gaze below while above them faintly sounds
The tightened drums of web and leaf strummed by fattened bees.
They hear the forest’s groaning dance, the rain’s tattoo on fronds.
They caress the feathered serpent, hear its’ savage screet,
And hide like braids of smoke among the dappled vines and trees
To follow with their ancient eyes our expedition’s long retreat.
The children toss and wake renewed in the evening’s placid cool.
Hooves beat towards them in the dusk and singing rings the pool
Where leaf bones drift and furred fronds gently sway
To the lilt of those valved voices whose words we cannot say.
Their languid arms and ochre eyes with signs command the night.
We drift downstream in silence robed, and darker dark is all our light.
Although covering 10 acres, this enchanting botanical garden in the Principe Real district is almost invisible from the surrounding streets. Laid out between 1858 and 1873, it was once considered the best botanical garden in Southern Europe. Today, although showing some signs of neglect, it still has one of the largest collections of subtropical vegetation in Europe. Its dense vegetation and exotic plants make it one of the most calming spots in the city, with over 18,000 species from all over the world (each one is neatly labeled). They include a large number of cycads, weird Australian trees with twisting colossal trunks, and ancient palm-ferns that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs.