Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday night

My street's ablaze with colour at the moment. The hydrangeas two doors up have sat, crisp and mottled for months, like old maids perched by the side of the road. Now, suddenly they've erupted into pink, purple and blue life, turning into something resembling a mild acid trip.

Seeing hydrangeas seems to short circuit something in my brain, sending me into a peculiar kind of rapture. They remind me of my Grandma more than any other flower. One glimpse of them takes me back to her garden again, and to her, brown skirt to her knees, hair firmly in place, picking a handful of peas or mint. There she appears, sturdy and loving, in her small, perfectly kept patch of green at Southview.

I'm not great at understanding the anatomy of things, at labels and the naming of parts, at decipherable wholes and the bits that make them up. I generally have a much more impressionistic experience of life. So it took me almost 34 years to learn that the flower I felt so ardently about was even called a hydrangea.

But I knew how those flowers made me feel; I knew the quality of the air in those summer days when I played on the wall. Every single day for the last two years I've touched the hydrangeas growing on my street, lightly, with my fingertips, as I've passed. And been immediately back there again.

Tonight, I walked home on the other side of the street, feeling like the wind was blowing me down towards the sea, pushing me out into a night where seagulls gather in a sky lit by boats and stars. And I wondered about all the flowers on my street; I wondered how come they are not made of blood, as we are, but of something different. Because our lives are not so dissimilar, and our beginning and our end all converge at the same place.

A rose feels the force of nature in its petals, trembles with the weight of the rain. It stretches its stalk away from the muddy earth, towards the sunlight. Tonight, I imagined every flower, every leaf trickling sap. I imagined salt water falling down from each one, red blood spotting the pavement, and a curious wet emerging from in between each petal. I imagined mucus-streaked stalks. The liquid of life washing across flowerbeds, over walls, out onto the empty grey pavement.

On a night like tonight, how I wished they would, how I wished the flowers would do their blood-letting and their weeping, their loving and mating, and I could walk through their rivers of their living and growth and disintegration.

Perhaps then I could finally see manifested the desire that's pumping through the veins of this world, through me, seeping out through my pores, winding through the channels of my mind, enveloping my tendons.

Otherwise, that which fuels everything that we do, the very axis on which this planet turns, remains as invisible as the air we suck on. We can almost pretend it doesn't exist, and that the world can be containable, reasonable somehow.

But I can feel it in the wind that's rattling my windows, in the heat of this evening, in the hum of night-time. It's everywhere I look. And it's in my heart, tinkling like that empty beer can rolling past my window. I am trembling with the force of what makes me, and will break me every time.

New petals generate, old ones die, and I proliferate. And if you think I'm being over the top, if you doubt it, look out of the corner of your eye and you'll spot it, always, sitting there in your living-room, drinking your coffee, planning your next move.

I don't know what to do with all this desire inside. It's as strong as that sea out there and as fragile as those petals. Me. Silly me. Messy, bloody, somehow growing. The world never did come to terms with itself, did it? And nor, yet, have I.

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