I spent all day yesterday in the flowers—weeding, raking out, mulching. I’m late this year—the ground already warm under my hand when the sun drops the diamonds of first light. My mother-in-law once told me to wait for spring; let the birds glean what they will, she said. And they did. The coneflower is dry as straw, the Black-eyed Susans blink. But color is slowly waking up in the garden. The brittle browns and forgotten rusts shush me as they rub up against new green foliage.
I rake leaf remains out from around tubers—their faded reds and golds like scattered gems. The thick bands of iris greens reach up for the sky. I smooth around their fibrous heads, let them breathe. Already the leaves have started to make rich compost–the soil underneath fragrant and dark. I breathe deep its heady scent, close my eyes and dig fingers in the cool moist.
This morning the robins are in a frenzy over my newly cleared soil. I watch from the window as they hastily march back and forth amongst the stubby remains of my garden. It looks so clean. The mulch around the awakening clumps of green holds such promise. I wrap my arms around my sides—hug close this seed that strains against the dark soil of my heart.
Yesterday a tree swallow came calling. Hello beautiful, I said to her, as she made a lunging swoop above my head. I watched her fly into the nesting box and peek out at me suspiciously. The memory of her glistening black wings in sky-dance speaks light into the days.
When I was in the seventh grade I wrote an essay about what I want to be when I grow up. Mr. Kovalan, our English teacher, assigned us a theme every week. It was my favorite thing about school. Each week I looked forward to discovering what topic he would put before us. Mr. Kovalan never said much, but his comments on my themes always encouraged me. This is very well written, he might pen. Or: A very good story. There wasn’t much I was good at, but Mr. Kovalan helped me see that telling stories was something I could do. But this one? What did I want to be? A girl like me didn’t have a lot of choices. A girl like me rarely left the hollow. I thought long and hard about it.
When Mr. Kovalan graded my essay, he left me with few words.
Your choice surprises me.
That was all he said. That dear, dear man.
It was the first time I thought that maybe I could be more. That maybe…maybe there was more than what I know.
When I was in seventh grade I learned to dream the dream of the waiting soil.
I am a sleeping garden. I dream of shoots of green breaking through earth with pointed fingers. A glimpse of sky rests on my memory—white on blue with golden hues. In darkness the dream speaks hope into the night.
In the darkness the garden becomes a thing of expectation–of sleeping joy.