On “Study With Crepe Myrtle”

by Lia Purpura

“Study With Crepe Myrtle” appears in ROOTED: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction

In order to leave the essential event, the strange-yet-familiar quality of the moment intact, I think a very brief commentary is probably best. Here goes: There are states of being and unexpected encounters that come upon you fast and fierce, and a core quality of those encounters is often wordlessness. The light attending, the sense of time and space opening, the certainty of communicating/receiving – all these features are live and real. If we are to change our stance towards the ruin we are driving ourselves and other beings towards, a thorough and unabashed recognition of such forms of communication, of giving and receiving must be made. In this essay, I hoped to be as direct and clear as possible about just such a mysterious and powerful encounter with another being – one fully attentive, intelligent, graceful, and I believe, showing in every gesture, every interaction with light and air and others its singular life force.


Lia Purpura is the author of eight collections of essays, poems, and translations, most recently a collection of poems, It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful (Penguin.) Her awards include Guggenheim, NEA, and Fulbright Fellowships, and On Looking (essays) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work appears in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Orion, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore, MD and is Writer in Residence at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “Study With Crepe Myrtle” first appeared in Iowa Review.