a plant in my upstairs hallway dying. The plant’s been with my family for almost fourteen years. Almost as old as my eldest child. Older than some marriages. My plant’s dying and I wonder if I’ve done everything in my power to save it. Save her
. My husband says there’s a life span for everything. I bought her a bigger pot and watered her a little less, then a little more. I whispered to her as I passed, caressed her long green fan-like leaves— I did all I could do and she’s dying anyway because there’s a life span for everything.
Some things are beyond me. There is, after all, some great decision maker. Don’t mock this talk of fate, just accept it as part of life. I mourn her and watch her wither away, curious how she’s reduced me to a child again. My tears well up and my lip curls into that tiny pout of a mouth that should only be seen on little girls of two and three– not forty something, not me. I don’t want to let her go because now she’s part of my home.
Funny, I think my sadness must come from the world. This monster like grip, scrape in my throat. We are not under a spell, oh no, we see it and wave it away with disregard, smug-like and disrespectful like, yes. Or we sit in it and wallow with shame.
Me? I’m learning to flow with this melancholy. I blow like a reed or fall into the rhythm of dance. It’s a ballet. On and off the stage, I float, from tragedy to joy. I am alone in effortless beauty gliding, then struggling to break free, a villain’s grasp. This dance keeps me in. It allows me to weep, off stage. It reveals beauty in life and a sardonic justice because at least it’s not static. It’s like watching the air ruffle under fabric— gentle and subtle but captures your attention.This air is the only thing that matters. It’s change.
I’m getting old, perhaps, when I see things this way.
What do I have to hope for? My children? Who will they become in this world so slight, too slight for their beauty? Will they get swallowed up or will they dance?
Yes, it is true. I’m getting old when I see my plant dying and I compare her death to my life and a ballet and in the end I fear for my children and simultaneously glow in the thought of their beauty ever on my mind.
Then, I wonder when I walk down the halls of my school— do the people there see the energy of my soul leap outside me? Do they feel my electricity? Or do they see a woman, emptied and cold like the numbers on the computer, data lines?