Monday, June 11, 2018

Quarter Life Poetry: Inside the Botanical Garden

Inside the Botanical Garden

In the succulent room, Joanna
examines the strange and bristled plants
plump with protected water.

She wants to gently press her finger tip
against the sharpest spike.

She wants to tear open each succulent
to see what is really inside.

Outside, it is Winter.
gray clouds huddle together
and hover across the sky.
But inside, it feels hot and dry
Just like the real desert.

Joanna has only been to the desert once.
She drove along the straightest stretch of highway
that she has ever seen.
She never really believed anything
could be so straight, so singular.
In the infinity of straightness
she comforted herself
by thinking
everything straight
must bend somewhere.

Inside her car, she kept the air conditioner on.
But she could still feel the heat
trying to push it's way through.
The rays of the sun
still warming her bare shoulders.

When the flatness and straightness made
her too lonely
she stopped at a market
sturdy and dry as petrified wood.

Bells jangled as she swung open
the dust smudged door
The woman behind the counter looked
up from a magazine
and watched Joanna enter the store.
Joanna bought a soda and a candy bar
the chocolate already melting the plastic wrapper.

"Just passing through." She said while
shuffling through her purse for change.
The lady behind the counter moved her mouth
her skin was golden brown
and creased with dozens of rippling lines.

Joanna left the store
trudged through the heat
back to her car,
still the only one gleaming in the parking lot.

But in the distance she thought she saw
a person stumbling toward the endless horizon
steam and blurred light surrounding him.
But when she squinted her eyes
she saw there was nothing there at all
except for gold sand and a few bristled succulents.

When she got into her car
the steering wheel singed her palms
she didn't leave the car again
until she reached cooler climates.

But in the botanical garden
Mary looks at the succulents and thinks
none of them
could be mistaken for a human
and what if somewhere out there in the desert
are the bones of a man she mistook as a plant.

Wanting to forget the desert drive,
she shakes her head and rushes into the next room
where she finds herself surrounded by orchids.

She sits on a bench
next to an old woman.
Together they admire the orchids
while their thoughts tumble around inside of them.

The orchids look like the head of make believe animals.
Each one strange and rare and beautiful
But together all in the same room
they begin to look ordinary.

"Oh Lucile." the old woman says.
"aren't they beautiful?"
The old woman stares at Joanna with watery eyes
her chapped lips turned up in a crinkled and demure smile.

"Yes." Joanna says and nods her head.
"They really are."
and for a moment, Joanna wants to pretend
to be Lucile forever.

Outside, it has started to rain
the drops gently thud on the enclosure
and slip down across the glass.
The old woman turns her head back to the flowers
while Mary looks past the orchids
at the windowed wall of the garden
where she can see her own pale reflection
streaked with falling rain.

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