Tuesday, February 5, 2019

life in leaves


when my brother died, his house smelled of cigarettes, old beer and his particular body odor--which always struck me as containing hints of mustard and bologna.  his was a really sad ending.  tragic, even, if tragedy is defined by the main character's downfall caused by his own attempt at virtue.  but that's a story for another day.  today, i want to talk about the one plant he had living with him in his house.  i can't remember why i took it, but it was still in its container from the nursery when he died.  an indoor plant with deep green, fan-like leaves that could look prehistoric in the right setting.  however little my brother cared for himself or for others, he remembered to water this plant.  he kept it alive.  and i wanted to keep it alive, too.

it moved to our house, but stayed in its nursery container for probably a year, simultaneously ignored and pitied.  then, on a whim, i decided to give it a proper pot.  i transplanted it, touching its roots carefully, wondering what this living creature knew of life.

and then we went on, as did it.  growing, dying, living.  it became a part of the background.  a quiet observer.  now it's moved with us.  survived the brutal elimination process that other items have not.  why?  it feels necessary.  it feels like a continuation.  its organic memory might have memory and it might not.  but my brother breathed oxygen created by this plant.  likewise, his waste material--every heavy sigh, drunken snore, angry exhale--was pulled in by this plant and cherished, turned into something lovely.

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