Thursday, June 28, 2012

to all and everything

My husband invited a rather large green bush-eating monster who despised all things wild and untamed into our yard. The beast ate our wildflower beds, and our butterfly bush. The monster snorted and huffed up in a slightly savage British accent, "All the wild things in the world make me terribly sick." He chomped the bottom first, then pulled up the gladiola. Lavender caught in its front teeth and caterpillars hung from its lips. The brute stomped through our yard muttering about radicals. He waddled off, farting and muttering about chaos and the proletariat. 

There was almost nothing left of the butterfly bush after the monster left. It was in full bloom with flowers just a few minutes before the monster came, a ton of butterflies visiting and circling. My husband stood proudly by. "Now we look like everyone else. Let us rejoice!" The bush is a weed to most people, but not to me. I see universes in its branches, her arms stretched wide beckoning all the flying creatures to come forth and live together in harmony. "Workers of the yard, UNITE!" Their signs read. Fairies and hummingbird and butterflies and moth create unions and collectives in her branches. Now it it looks like an amateur bonsai hackjob, sad and withered, forced into a subdivision of barely anything resembling bush. My wildflower garden is digesting in the belly of the brute, the leftovers put into yard sacks to sit on the curb until next Thursday. I cried, deep guttural moans, an incessant wave of mourning all day. "My nature, they killed my nature," I tell my sad story to anyone who will listen. It is unlike me to weep, but I raged and ranted, keened and screamed Mayakovsky from our front step.
An eye for an eye!
Kill me,
bury me -
I’ll dig myself out,
the knives of my teeth by stone —
no wonder!-
made sharper,
A snarling dog, under
the plank-beds of barracks I’ll crawl,
sneaking out to bite feet that smell
of sweat and of market stalls and eat the flowerbeds of writers!
I vow to replant. I give speeches in the streets.


I am a wild thing. My nest is gone. My sanctuary ripped out for order. The absence of those beds makes me feel misunderstood. I should be woven into a daisy chain and worn as a crown, rather than cut down with a gas-powered mower, the last bits of me grasping for earth as I am pulled out of the ground. There is nothing left for me here. Summer is oppressive and solitary. Without nature, it is empty. All my places are lost to suburban pressures. Grass is cut once a week. The neighbors wear khakis and eat Hamburger Helper. I feel weak for weeping, but suburbia is stronger than me.

I feel like I will never forgive my husband. It is stupid to be upset and sad about some plants, but I scream the Russian's words anyway and play pretend revolution, but I am just heartbroken and telling tall tales about monsters and Russian poets who cry for better working conditions for the people. The bush is gone and my flowers are gone. I screamed at the children today, because they were screaming at each other, then I wept about breaking that boundary in me. I don't have the strength to stay quiet. I am an coyote. A crow calling his friends, annoying the neighbors. No, I am a cicada whose deep hard shell is stuck to a lawn chair, broken open so delicately that it is hardly noticeable. In fact, I don't think my husband noticed I wasn't in there anymore. I almost looked alive, but I was not there. When the bush left, so did I. I will never understand flower beds and weeding and suburban ethics and I need to stop trying. 

When I am like this, I sit in church basements and drink shitty coffee and pray constantly. 

God, show me your path and grant me the strength to take it. God, help me accept. God, help me grieve. God, save me from myself. 

It is the opposite of grief season here. The wind is hot and wet, my hair sticks to my neck and I beg for a breeze. It is a prayer tucked between strength and guidance. The dog knocks the wind chime when he bounds down the stairs, and I mistake it for wind, then I stand, open armed, waiting for the shell of me to be carried to a garden full of foxglove and butterfly bushes far away from green monsters, fibs about grief, and the bourgeoisie.


  1. I feel like you ought to come out to the farm in middle-of-nowhere, ky for the weekend with us! Get your tent! We leave at daybreak!

  2. There is a cool breeze here for you Angie, in the midst of my own chilly antipodean grief season . I'll send you all the calming and cooling vibes from it that I can. Missing both of our winter babies and marvelling at your wonderful words. Again.

  3. Ah, the yard crazies. I've had more than my share of "helpful" neighbors mow down all my native plants. I feel for you. I hope some of it comes back.

  4. I know it's not the point, but my brain won't me say anything about the point. Because? You know Mayakovsky! My kid doesn't even know Mayakovsky (yet, and I need to remedy that this summer), and you know Mayakovsky! Have I told you that I love you?

    And I am so sorry suburbia ate your plants...

  5. I'm so sorry. I have been so completely exhausted and on edge that the other night when I plopped my deliciously marinated salmon filet on the grill only to realize that I had run out of propane in the previous three minutes, I about went homicidal. If someone had touched my tomato plant or the tenderly contained evergreens I'm trying to grow in the shade to hide my AC units, I would have screamed revolution as well. (Even if the something that touched or damaged was an adorable two year old. I would have barked COUP until he cried.)

    Plant more. Butterflies like suburbia, too.

  6. I love butterfly bushes, but in my state they are classified as noxious weeds and no one will sell them or ship them to me. But there was one outside my window at the Ronald McDonald house, those summer weeks of 2008 when I was full of hope, and I will love them for the rest of my life for that reason alone. Nature is a tough and tenacious old broad, and I suspect she'll return to you soon. Not that this makes the ravaging okay. I'm sorry for your lost wilderness. I hope your replanting goes well.

  7. Aw Angie. I'm sorry. And I'm wondering if that monster was some weird manifestation of my father, the slightly savage British accent is a give away! My father who removed the rose bushes and the pampas grass and the weeping cherry from our front garden! ARGH!

    I'm so sorry about your butterfly bush (even more so reading Erica's comment) and I suspect that I am on the evil-lawn-mowing-non-Mayakovsky-recognising side of this equation. People like me can . . . well, we can suck. Because we can leave things with the semblance of life and not notice that there is nobody in there. That is a sucky thing to do.

    And this post made me think of this song

  8. Angie,
    Our wind chime tinkles constantly up here as the wind blows and blows and our fields end up in a neighbouring province. Our lawn grows wild and my husband cuts it with a tractor now and then (not a lawn tractor). However the crop fields lay well-tended and weed-free and I wonder at the life that is baled up in the bales of hay when baling season comes. Our place is no suburbia but nor are my thoughts Mayakovsky driven either. Despite the wind and the wildness, death lives here too and sometimes I feel that my self is blown away and who is this person left caring for my remaining children...


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