E.B. White’s watched his cancer-stricken wife Katherine in her last October, planting bulbs. There was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance, he wrote, . ..the small hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her days (which she knew perfectly well was near at hand) sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in dying October, calming plotting the resurrection.

Crinium lilies – for its sangria hue, its fountain of ruby foliage.  Tiny hyacinth – because they are brave enough to muscle up while winter still stings. Bluebells, for the chorus of them, humming.  Scilla peruviana:  because I want to be surprised.

I dream of a purpled tide rippling along my garden walk in early spring. The bulbs I ordered months ago arrived in brown paper bags this week.  It is time to press their smooth orbs into the earth, nippling toward the open sky.  Time to cover them in black soil and then wait, wait under the dark blanket of winter.  Each must inhabit its darkness, become one with the worm and mineral, the pine bark and warm oven of sun.  They will root and stem out of their own secret compulsions, with no help from me.

A friend admitted yesterday that she is plunged again into an old and searing pain.  Enormous losses, she figured buried and gone, were only waiting in the dark.  Now she must go back for them; she must go down to the forgotten place where she left not only loss, but the hope of love.  Though her face is swollen with tears, it is already more alive than I have seen in months.  She is planting herself, now by choice, in that loamy darkness, her heart stem aiming toward the still-covered sky.  Something in all of us dreams of color and emergence, of purple tipped songs rising from the cold trenches where we have tucked, sometimes, the best of us.  All of us, dying or not-yet dying, at some time must go down like potatoes, like  tubers asleep in the dirt, like promises of resurrection.


~ by Susan on 10/14/2010.

One Response to “Amaryllis.Lilies.Snowdrops.”

  1. “brave enough to muscle up” — your purple-tipped prose opens my heart. Oh to plant (to be organized enough to order bulbs on time!!), to wait, to go deep and rise as tender petal and stem. Your friend will…my earthy, loamy hopes are with her.

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