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Fallen Beauty

Apr. 9, 2023

The patio's bougainvillea
daily lets go
a fraction of its flowers
(others taking their place)
littering the garden below
with lovely fuchsia refuse.

Some land,
upon the green foliage
of other, lower-lying plants,
like flamboyant Day of the Dead decorations,
highly-colored Mexican ghosts.

With time,
with their cousins that have fallen directly to the concrete,
they will turn pale,
graying like distinctly Anglo ghosts,
and pile up
in patio corners
and in the narrow spaces
between the pots,
translucent shrouds
covering small collections of soil,
grit and powder,
the dust that,
deposited by the mountain wind
here in Mexico's high desert,
we have all
more or less,
learned to live with.

I have a high tolerance for disorder.
Engaged with my creative endeavors
I can comfortably coexist with such messiness.
Unable to accommodate
the periodic invasions of my space
by a cleaning lady,
it's all that I can do to keep the inside of my house in order,
let alone the outside.
I do care for the garden
watering, pruning,
shifting plants from the sun to the shade,
(the shade largely provided by the bougainvilla0
when the unforgiving Mexican sun
takes a higher path through the sky.

despite my usual tolerance,
every month or so
this garden litter,
these heaps of floral phantoms
and piles of proto-soil,
becomes too much
even for me.

Usually on some Sunday morning
after I've been pruning,
I begin to sweep.

Yesterday, for example,
just after snipping old leaves from one of my begonias
(Mother was so proud of hers up north)
I put down the shears,
took up the old, outside broom
and began cleaning up
moving things around
to better get into those hard-to-get spaces,
disturbing the accumulated, greying tide of past beauty.

The patio is small
with only a few heavy things to slide out of the way,
the propane gas tank, cleverly camouflaged by a hanging ivy,
a plant stand holding a half-dozen small beauties,
and the big potted lavender.
The discarded petals,
themselves as light as air,
have already made the job easier
by collecting
into nooks and channels.

I mound them up
inside a large cardboard box,
until it overfills
then carry out their light load
into the lot next door
depositing those former blooms
under a patch of broad-leaf plants
vibrantly growing against my neighbor's side wall
where they will continue their decomposition

There is a metaphor in all this,
probably several,
especially for someone as old as me.

My morning mission accomplished,
yesterday filled with other such minor victories,
until evening found me
just after sunset
watering the garden
as its shadows gathered weight.

There was yet enough light
behind the patio walls
for me to admire the order I had imposed,
the, more or less, neatly swept space.
And that, after all,
is the point of a walled garden,
a refashioning of nature in our form,
giving special, protected advantage to that which pleases us.

Night falling in earnest,
interrupting my revery,
I turned off the spigot
and went inside.

This morning,
pausing whatever I was up to at the moment
I gazed admiringly out into the garden
where I notice,
a few dozen bright pink petals
fallen over night
scattered across the verdure and concrete,
spirits, who do not yet know
that they are discarnate.

by Dr. David Fialk, Editor / Publisher


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