the graveyard of blooms
When I needed to be closer to twilight I’d climb the tree. The tree was an oak, large and protective, sitting at the far eastern corner of the farm in which I lived. Near the top of the tree, right as the trunk split in several directions into its winding arms, there was a plank of wood stapled to the tree. We called the plank the tree house. The tree house was created in the 80s so the owner of the farm, now in his 80s himself, could look at the Shenandoah mountains in the distance. The tree house was accessed by two unstable, deteriorating ladders, also made of wood, also stapled to the tree. The climbing of the ladders was hazardous, foolish, laborious enough to be considered a trek, so that getting to the tree house and resting on its splintered wood felt like something accomplished.
I said I’d climb the tree when I needed to be closer to twilight. What I meant is the twilight of consciousness. What I meant is I’d climb the tree when I needed to be away from existence so that I may rest in my mind. What I meant is the treehouse, and the journey to the treehouse, allowed me to retreat from humanity and become a tree, a bird, a cloud, whatever my eyes found and my mind rested on. To observe without the pressure to exist.
On the far eastern corner of the farm under the treehouse there was what we called the far fields. There was what I called the graveyard of blooms. Winds take seeds easily, from seeding trays or fresh blooms too gentle to withstand much. A May breeze can hit a bud too quickly and the petals scatter the ground like ellipses. In the field to the east we’d find the seeds in singular blooms, far from our cultivated beds and sometimes months, years after the farm had seen anything of the sort. A lone bachelor button, a row of perennialized sawtooth daisies, a zinnia in a color long-ago out of style. They weren’t so much wild flowers as flowers taken by the wild, things meant to be cultivated, cut, sold, but the winds had other plans and now they were hiding under the oak tree, under the tree house. One more gust and they’d be free beyond the fence, reaching for the east or else just elsewhere.
Winter seems to come harsher each year. Age has thinned my skin or else its the isolation, and now for the second winter in a row it’s hard to remember what its like to want to do anything. As if the color outside the window has faded to a dull nothingness, I don’t know what to do with all the hours in the day and I don’t know what I ever did. I remember in the spring I was restless & eager for anything. Now I am tired and afraid of the world. To have the heart to endure life is for seedlings in the May breeze.
There are reminders. At 2pm the sun spills through my window. Sometimes I go outside to walk or else I just lay on the warmed rug, letting the light sink into my skin. Snowfall is gentle and quiet as nothing else in winter is. It erases harshness, if only for a moment, and makes the world glow. A ballet of birds outside my window. I don’t know if they forgot to migrate south of if they just like the cold, but they swing so close to my window it seems choreographed, it seems like the Hitchock movie about the birds except beautiful, nonthreatening. Explosive oranges fade to plunging purples as the sun leaves early again. It’s important to remember these things, to keep a list. If I don’t practice remembering beauty I will lose the muscle.
There are memories too, from earlier and long ago that I store like a stash in hibernation. Midnight swims in August and mountain grass in the spring. The wind took them from their present and brought them into my mind, over fences and across streams and elsewhere, always elsewhere. The graveyard of blooms to keep for the winter, to keep when twilight has passed and things need to be remembered.