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Something Good

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Something Good

          Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
                    –Richard Rodgers

In the untended and ordinary roadside dirt
by the mailbox post, a long stem grew
and today nearing the end of August,
past the last of the blueberries
I’d wanted to pick more of but missed—
come see—a nodding tiger lily, vivid
and shocking in between the green shadows,
the kind of flower one normally plans for
in a carefully arranged garden bed,
a choreography of colors and timing and height
meant to reveal a human’s artful eye and hands,
or, at least credit a handful of bulbs hastily tucked in
before the first frost, forgotten until April
when they start to bust through—not exactly
a surprise, but a gift left hidden,
a long-game plan for delight.

This unplanned delight troubles me
when I slow and stop to check for mail—
its garish, hothouse orange, deep brown speckles,
the pistil, the stamen with its lolling filaments
unsettle me. By what procreative voodoo
did it come to be here, pressing the cheeks
of its petals to the humid air? To me?

What does it say to a life well-tuned
for building happiness from blueprints,
but less prepared for this small flame,
this heart blown suddenly open?

Years ago, you pruned the few blue hydrangea
next to our small house and they didn’t return,
and kept on not returning, and we missed them sorely
and joked gently from time to time of our ineptitude—
how we know almost none of the things we thought
one ought to understand as caretakers
of something so large as a house and acres:
pruning, plumbing, the meaning of a sound
from the basement, from a wall.

And yet this summer, they bloomed,
bounding back unannounced, long-lost friends
full of forgiveness—bygones gone by,
the loving amnesia.

Which is how I find myself
humming that old tune, wondering
if maybe you or I did something good or right,
on purpose or not, buried a little landmine
of that goodness and wandered off.

Maybe there are plans so old and well-laid,
or rough prayers made so many lifetimes ago
we just don’t remember; maybe we were offered a mercy
in that forgetfulness until today, until now,
when such an ancient wish flourishes
like magic as it’s granted.

 

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