PAULA is digging and shaping the loam of a salvia,

Scarlet Chinese talker of summer.
Two petals of crabapple blossom blow fallen in Paula's
And fluff of white from a cottonwood.

Carl Sandburg (1878–1967)

Salvia (Salvia Divinorum) a sage, grows wild here in the Sonoran desert but by June it's all but faded by the intense summer heat. It's a rather plain green low growing plant but gloruis when it blooms with long spiky stalks topped with small trumpet like flowers. In Sandburg’s Illinois, early June is still spring but it's in April and May that I see it on my walks where it is the 'talker of summer' sprouting up as a volunteer plant scattered among the desert poppies. The line Scarlet Chinese is reminiscent of the flower's pagoda like shape and Sandburg's simple transition of descriptions from the brown loam to bright red, a fading pink and lastly white is indeed the pleasant progress I see on my day to day walk as I pass the same plant each day.

from Chicago Poems(1916)


Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner: