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Scribblings: Week 25

Apr 14, 2015

Sagittaria_montevidensis_002_600pxBack in the day, when I had a yard and a garden, I spent more hours than I ever spent in a church on my knees. And while no organ might boom, no priest intone, no choir sing, and no stained glass window throw rainbows across the back of a pew, I prayed.

I prayed for deliverance. Weeds, weeds, weeds – oh, deliver me, Lord, from the ceaseless torment of weeds!

California may look all lush and green on a television or movie screen…but, as the current drought proves, strip it of its water supply and it is revealed for the desert it is. Just as, when my clothes drop to the floor, I am nightly forced to accept that, yeah, that old lady paunch is mine, and so too are those hips, not that there is anything parched about either.

Yet if I am a creature of denial, so too were the multifarious generations of weeds that once upon a time dropped by my place regularly. Nutgrass, crabgrass, cudweed, nightshades, oxalis, spurge – desert climate and my Weed B Gon gun be damned, they were drawn to my yard like Cinderella to the ball.  Unfortunately, unlike Cinderella, they never quite realized it was time to split. The battle to evict them lasted the decades I called the garden mine.

Those days of combat are long gone. I live in an apartment 1,436.3 miles away now, and it is someone else’s responsibility to nurture and protect the wondrous green beings of the earth there.

Nevertheless, as the French writer Alphonse Karr noted, the more things change, the more they are the same…

I was taking a short cut through the parking lot back to my apartment the other morning when I saw a cluster of bright, petite, yellow blossoms at the foot of a bed of roses…

Uh oh, I thought. That’s not going to make someone happy.

But then I backtracked a couple steps and peered more intently at the ground. Actually, for a weed, this weed was mighty pretty – a sweet little sweet pea of a plant that reminded me, in a way, of lobelia.

Except it wasn’t. It was a critter whose cousins I had annihilated by ruthless handfuls. OXALIS!

 

500px-Oxalis_luteola_1

 

I pulled out my phone and snapped a photo. Exactly what, I wondered, made oxalis a weed and lobelia a flower? Other than that one arrived in gardens via 6-packs and one arrived uninvited?

Actually I had pretty much answered my own question. A weed is a plant in the wrong place, Wikipedia informed me.

That said, my inner tea leaf reader was certain there had to be more to that patch of oxalis than that…And, sure enough, the Weed Science Society of America provided me with the key to enlightenment, quoting philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.

However, Emerson was far less concerned with where a plant rooted than in what ideals were rooted within it. A weed, the poet pronounced, is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

 

weed-broadleaf

 

Hmm, I thought. What ‘weeds’ in my little plot here in Dallas have virtues I have yet to discover?

These are not necessarily easy questions to answer. If only because a weed is a plant in the wrong place and, well, I don’t know about you, but I’d often rather sulk than play Sherlock.  WTF? I DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS STUPID WEED TO ROOT ITSELF IN MY DIRT!!!

Nevertheless, detecting the flower within a weed is a worthwhile exercise. It forces us to open our version of those little Russian dolls, the ones that contain a doll within a doll within a doll. Except, in our case, we find the butterfly seeded within the snail within our pet petunias.

I’ll share first, shall I?

Alone Time. As virtually everyone except a few aboriginal tribes and perhaps some cloistered nuns in the highlands knows by now, I have more Alone Time than I would like, having relocated at an advanced age to a new city.  Yet it is only as I have been forced to endure frankly dreadful universes of loneliness and isolation that I have discovered what I now call The Star System of the Three Ls.

Thanks to Alone Time, I have hours to LISTEN – whether it is to others, through written word or song, or to God, through prayer and nature.

Thanks to Alone Time, I have hours to LOOK, both within myself and outward at this endlessly resurrecting miracle of a world. The words of the 10th century Japanese poet Izumi Shikibu – who, what do you bet, had some spare time on her hands, too? – exhilarate me:

Nothing
in the world
is usual today.
This is
the first morning.

And the third L, what is that? I’ll let Izumi give you a hint:

Seeing you is the thread
that ties me to this life.

Yes, the third L is to LOVE.

 

Dandelion_1

 

Which leads me directly into two thickets of weeds so high, so dense that I often feel as if they’ve got me in a chokehold: the death of my marriage and the life- threatening illness of my Dear Friend.

Both are trying circumstances. Yet, as my mentor Alphonse Karr has taught me, Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.

I am thankful for understanding, love, compassion and forgiveness – the bouquet of roses that invariably follow the fuselage of thorns launched my way on a bad day.

Thank heaven, for instance, for my attorney, who never fails to respond to my panic attacks or attacks of legal retardation and willful ignorance with patience, empathy, instruction, and, once it’s safe, humor.

Thank heaven for my friends, to whom I can send texts like “ONE MORE IRRITABLE MEAN CRACK OR COMPLAINT… and instead of my taking a long walk around the parking lot in tears, DF will take a long fall off my balcony in bits!”

Thank heaven for my friends who don’t recoil in horror from Nurse Jenine Ratched. Thank heaven for my friends who understand that I have been driven into a cuckoo’s nest of depletion.

It is far tougher to shut up Judge Jenine.

Judge Jenine is no friend to me.

Daily and devotedly Judge Jenine informs me that I am about on par spiritually with a Brussel sprout. And at least Brussel sprouts help ward off cancer. Obviously, I do not.

I am also not kind enough…not selfless enough…not patient enough…not organized enough… not thin enough…not firm enough…not disciplined enough…not contemplative enough…not quiet enough…not forgiving enough…not empathetic enough…not good enough.

Plus I’m a shitty poet, and I want to be Jack Myers.

It is a long story how I discovered the works of Jack Myers but, suffice to say, my heart began racing the moment I read the title of one of the last poems he wrote before his death in 2009. Desert is the Memory of Water.

 

Late_Precambrian_Noonday_Formation

 

If you resonate to poetry at all, you are already grasping that the title is a poem unto itself. And, if you don’t like poetry, trust me. It’s an Einstein of a title. I can just hear Shakespeare dropping by Jack’s place up in heaven for a chinwag. “So, Jack, how’d you come up with that?”

Meanwhile, I read on…

I believe whatever disappears or survives
or comes into being is a prayer that’s already
been answered, and that we feel alone
because we won’t let go of what is gone
or changed or hasn’t happened yet.

Beautiful words. Beautiful words that lonely I was grateful for.

Beautiful words. Beautiful words poet-wannabe I wished I had written.

Actually, I was so suffused with envy that I made the Wicked Witch of the West look peaked. Who am I KIDDING? I thought. I’ll never never never never be able to write like this.

Then, just as I was trying to figure out which would kill me first – covetousness of Jack’s words or embarrassment by my own – Leonard Cohen rode in via email to the rescue:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
that’s how the light gets in.

Okay…

OKAY! So I’m a poet with a little p rather than a capital one. So I’m a dandelion rather than a sunflower…So what?

Are you a dandelion, too? Welcome to my meadow; I have a feeling there are lots of us.

So let’s have some fun, shall we? Let’s lift our bright, yellow, pretty, imperfect, perfectly cracked faces to the sun! Then let’s scatter our seeds to the wind, you and I, and shine, shine, shine over hills and seasons to come because, guess what? We’re weeds and we’re flowering right where we ought to be.

We belong.

 

pink_rose_thorns_stem_600px

 

~~~

 

Find more of Jenine’s poems, writings, and musings at MichaelWhoKnew.com.

Enjoy more of her work in “Write Here”:
Surrender
Scribblings: Week 15
Scribblings: Week 14
Scribblings: Week 13
The Rabbit in the Moon
Sorrow Tree
The Deflowering of Silence
The Morning the Egg ExplodedToo Beautiful
May I Have This Last Dance, Mr. Banana Nose?
Into the Bay Forever
No Two Blades of Grass
How Long Is Never?
Golf Course

 

~~~

 

Photos, in order, top to bottom:

Common California weed, Sagittaria montevidensis. Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Angiosperma Monocotiledonea Liliopsida Alismatales Sagittaria Fotografiada al Jardin Botanico de Bonn Por Luis Mata.

Oxalis Luteola: Photo by Stan Shebs [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Broadleaf weed illustration: IPM at U.C. Davis.

Desert photo: Late Precambrian Noonday Formation scoured in Mosaic Canyon by periodic flow, Death Valley. (USGS photo) Public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Pink rose with thorns: source not found.




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