Beholden to Purple

Finally, the daisies. I take no offense that my favorites wait until I leave to bloom. Returning leads to an unexpected delight and in that way, one ponders how expectation and joy manage a garden.

And also, the milkweed flowers. No management required and yet, one is beholden to purple.

My father moves around the family like a wasp, dropping in and out with edgy intention. Easily startled, he makes a lot of noise when afraid. We sing “Happy Birthday” and eat apple pie before he moves on to gassing the boat, washing the car, and other tasks unrelated birthdays.

The family bundles are frayed and with all these reminders of death as of late, I remain alerted to the practice of seeing present moments as my own private islands in an endless ocean. At least, that is what I tell myself before arriving. On the way home, I count red-winged blackbirds and follow the hawks up into columns of summer sky.

In the car K. nudges for my hand and asks what I am thinking. I'm replaying the walk in the pine forest, remembering how the wind whispers with sharp clarity when all the trees are the same. So I say: oh, nothing. And I'm not lying. Because on one hand, it is everything. And on the other, it is the insatiable and sedating black hole of no thing, devouring whatever the mind tries to claim.

And even now the shadows of the backyard pine trees rock back and forth across my face as if fanning a drowsy Cleopatra. She's a part of me, you know . . . entertaining the asp, and all.

For now, I cut no flowers on this snake-less island, sweating in the pine-scented heat of a lover who is closer than touch.