The Speechless Life
I keep bringing home small plants, of late. I have jokingly said I'm trying to fill the void left by the loss of our dog, but there's some truth to it, I suppose. I continue to feel so much...I'm not sure what stage I'm at even. There have been moments when I wanted to howl, angry moments, and then just pure moments remembering all that silly furry love. Meanwhile life goes on all around us. We're planning for Rob's show which is coming up on March 22 in Edmonton. We're thinking ahead to my book launch on May 17 at Audreys. We're planning for Chloe's homecoming at the end of April. We're thinking about how summer will play out.
And meanwhile, as I said, houseplants arrive. These three small cacti, for example.
Have you read this poem by Eamon Grennan? I love the first line, because it speaks to us all. It's the way it always is, for all of us, at all times. And I love the line “The light that falls on them strikes me too.” And of course they flourish, with just these basic things, water and light. They're a reminder of all this, houseplants are, especially those in winter. They say so much, speechless though they are.
Houseplants in Winter
by Eamon Grennan
Their survival seems an open question:
I make a mess of watering, prune
without discretion, grieve over the leaf
whose borders burn and curl. Their
fresh petals a perpetual surprise –
minute coral hearts, magnesium stars.
I've lined them up on the table
I work and eat at, facing the small window
that faces almost south, placing myself
under the pale sway of their silence.
They play their deaths and resurrections out
in our cramped common quarters.
I gave the rose-geranium too much water:
its roots grew bog-black, sodden, and
nothing could keep its sweetness
in our lives. The jade, for all its
early promise and parakeet-green shoots,
won't root: it bows its leathery heads.
The rest seem busy getting by. Removed
to the margins of our noisy mealtimes
when my children visit, they grow used
to the smell of bread frying in goosefat
for breakfast, small talk, the after-
dinner pungency of a peeled tangerine.
The speechless life they lead is Greek
to me: when live flowers rise
out of dead heads, I reckon it's as much,
for the moment, as I need to know.
The light that falls on them
strikes me too, till I feel as rooted
as I'll ever be in this home
from home. Look at us, they seem to say,
flourishing under straitened circumstances:
you see we make do with your handfuls
of earth, your cups of water, these daily
visitations of winter light that cast our
impeccable shadows on your razed page.