Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Waterstone's Yard

We are sitting in the unmown grass in the warm afternoon sun, nibbling oregano, peppermint and lemon balm that grow around a small maple tree.  Mr. Waterstone tells me that he has eaten leaves and flowers off every kind of plant.  I list things I've heard are deadly poisonous -- foxglove, nightshade, poinsettia.  He says he doesn't know about poinsettia, but he's eaten the other two.  I want to ask him what kind of trip he had afterwards, but I am too busy absorbing this new information.

I was raised to be afraid.  Everything was known to be poisonous, dirty and/or evil, including my own body, especially my own thoughts.  The world was out to get me, starting with God, who had me born unholy with Original Sin.  As a child I made mud pies in the yard, using ice plant for green beans and dandelion flowers for garnish, but I knew never to put anything in my mouth.

Now here I am carefully plucking a small oval leaf, feeling the bright mint oil wake up my tongue, smelling its sharpness on my fingers.  I see all kinds of crawling things among the small stems and leaves, including quick spiders and multi-colored beetles.  I forget my dislike of insects as I succumb to the urge to snuggle into the greenness, melting down into the lushness, being taken over, disappearing.  The breeze will tangle my hair so that I am woven into the grass, the sun will bake my skin so that I am the color of the soil.  My fingernails will grow like roots into the ground, holding fast to deep set rock.  My lips, nostrils, eyelids, earlobes will tingle with the touch of the light pulling up, stretching up, thinning my skin into delicate leaf shapes to photosynthesize food to feed my spine that turns tough and woody, lying along the ground like a rope of ivy vine.  I will be wildness, free and unafraid in the sanctuary of this garden.

Suddenly I sit up.  I was on an errand before I stopped off here.  I must get to the bank before it closes, drop off some oversized envelopes at the post office, pick up some forms from the school.  My body remembers its form and dimensions as I tense muscles to stand.  I say goodbye.

As I drive away, the window down to let in air, my body may be the same, but my mind has metamorphosed just enough so that all the green life I see, I recognize as kin.

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