BUTTERCUPS

I walk into this garden, familiar as a living room…which it was, in a way, since I used to live in the 3rd floor apartment above… and register in an instant a multitude of perceptions, as if I had a compound eye like a fly’s: buttercups gone viral in the border, mildew on the apple tree, the azara blocking the second-storey window of the house adjacent. The usual problems to attend to, in other words, the ongoing results of mistakes made 25 years ago.  Digging up that shoot of buttercup in the park and bringing it home.  Planting a Gravenstein apple in this inappropriate climate.  Accepting on face value my plant instructor’s (!) recommendation of the azara with the descriptive, “It doesn’t grow fast enough.” Today, there is a new, alarming ingredient: a black growth dangling from one of the 8-foot high canes of the ‘Joseph’s Coat’ rose.

It’s dew-soaked; it’s lacy; it’s a black bra. The lace is composed of daisy-like flowers in a leafy filagree.  Sexy see-thru, in advertising terms. On the left cup (40-D to make a wild guess) are two fledgling snails slumbering, evidently hatched there.  On the right cup is a gold-green worm, having made a wrong turn somewhere, and panicking.

Tentative yanks don’t release the bra from the thorns, nor do vigorous ones.  They only get me scratched up.  I climb the ladder and angle my leaf rake and with the outermost tine, lift and coax it loose, and engineer its passage through a thorny maze.  No high school sophomore ever worked harder to get a bra loose.

Its erotic history smolders like a doused campfire.  I try to imagine lurid vignettes, at least a last libertine episode when it got tossed over the fence, or dropped from a window above.  To no avail.  It looks like a dead crow.  I don’t want to touch it.

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