Sunday, September 13, 2015

How Like A Plant I Am

Morning glories twining their way onto my back porch.


I admit: I’m like an invasive vine.  Say,
honeysuckle.  It winds its way up chainlink
fences, around tree trunks and limbs,
dead or alive.  I’ve always loved its scent
on a June night, envied the bees their
taste of that honey.  I’ve fought with it,
but it never gives up, always resurges.
With other people I guard my boundaries,
but I turn around and find openings 
in theirs to let me in so I can love them,
heal them.  Looking back, I see how 
like a plant I am.  I never give up.  
Cut me back, and I fling out runners 
and attach myself again when you 
least expect it, when you aren’t
paying attention.  I scarcely know
myself what I’m doing.  Most people
stop at those dividing lines that keep us
separate, in little groups.  I see the lines
but ignore them.  Before I could read 
and write, I was loving people I wasn’t 
supposed to love.  That boy from the 
other side of the tracks brought his 
three-week-old baby sister to show
me.  I ran to tell Mother, and she cut
the baby’s fingernails and let the boy
know–how?–not to come back.  I never
saw him again.  In seventh grade I
loved Wesley, who brought me a fresh
gardenia every day.  If you touched
the petals, they turned brown.  We held
hands and I reveled in his singing voice–
a boy soprano.  He asked me to a dance,
and Mother said no, he was too short.  
She didn’t understand the love I felt
because she’d never trusted herself
that much.  She’d surely have frowned 
on my Russian beloved, but I didn’t tell
her when I borrowed money to go see him.
Now it’s clear how vital I am in my aging,
never giving up, still fighting, still
working, my energy still there to be
tapped and used, still seeing the lovable
in all these people who gather to fight 
against turning our community into a
coal ash dump. The powers that be may
trim me back, but I have roots in my
deepest being that they don’t imagine.  
My vine is persistent, undeterred, and
even partakes of eternal life.

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