He came every morning with water and tools. He leaned down close to us, and his hands were gentle as they pulled the weeds from our roots and churned the moist clumps of soil loose, spreading it evenly across our bed. In the morning, when the sun hadn’t risen, he’d kneel and bend his back down, and gently pour the water between our stalks, and it was good water. Cool, and rich, and its minerals soaked down to my very roots.
Every morning he came, and every morning he would talk to us, and cry, and my head was lowered because it was still early and I hadn’t the strength to raise it up and look into his face. But when the sun broke the horizon, and I could feel my green cells begin to move, I would try, just for him. I would look up, into the sun, and every morning I would see his face as he stood back up, and I would see the tears that salted my bed still wet on his cheeks.
This was the face that said such things to us in the morning. The face with the voice like warm leaves in a bitter cold. The face that gently cared for my soil, that gave me water on dry days. That had planted me in my bed, and cared for me every day.
Was this love? He talked of love, every morning, as he cried his warm tears and his rough hands gently brushed my leaves. He talked of many things. Of hate, of regret, of sadness, of loneliness. But I didn’t understand. I had the sun in the day, I slept at night, and I had him in the morning. What more to life was there?
Maybe Maria. He talked of Maria. Every morning, he told us a story, but I never understood. Every morning it got a little longer, as he told a little more, but I never knew what it meant.
Maria was human, just like the man, and the man loved her, he said. The first time he ever tended our bed, he told us about Maria.
She was kind, and she was tall, and she had red hair that was always messy and always beautiful. He said when she smiled her eyes seemed to laugh, and when she laughed her eyes seemed to sing. Maria had a soft voice. It must have felt like cool soil, gently wrapping around your roots beneath the hot afternoon air, filling you with everything you could ever need or want. And he said that her touch was like the kiss of angels.
But I didn’t really know what any of that meant. All I knew was his hands, gently tending my dirt, brushing beneath my leaves as he troweled the soil, mixing in the tears that trickled from his cheeks down to my roots.
Every morning he gave us water and talked to us. Every morning he cried. Was this love? Or was it sadness?
Maria did not love him. As I listened in the morning, my cells straining against the stalks, trying to grow, my roots happy and full from the sweet, sweet food of the soil, he told us about Maria, and how she left.
For years, she was his, he said. For years, he was hers. To each other they were everything, the entire world of sun and earth. But then, one morning as he trimmed the stunted leaves from my bulb, the man said that another man had appeared, and Maria liked him too.
The other man was better looking. He was kinder. The man said he was funny, and that he was charming. I didn’t know what ‘charming’ meant, but maybe it was like the little beetles that climb your stalk all day long, and then suddenly sprout wings and fly away into the air, never coming back to say hello, without ever saying goodbye.
This was the kind of man Maria had chosen, had chosen over him. He told us so. A nicer, softer, younger man, with less dead growth, and more green life.
Maria had made the choice, and now she was gone, and the man was all alone, and he could never have her back. And every morning he came out to our bed with water and tools, and turned the soil, and pruned our ill leaves, and gave us water. Good, hard water, with minerals that soaked down into the rich dirt beneath us, and gave us life.
Every night, they came and stood beside our bed, and talked in quiet voices about the man. They said they could see his ‘windows’ through the bushes, and they watched him as he got ready for sleep, in something they called a ‘house.’ They watched as he moved from room to room, as he ‘turned out the lights.’ And then, when the night was at its stillest, when only the cold breezes came to our garden, or the occasional little animal, softly padding between our stalks, they would silently walk off. Once they dropped a hot, glowing stick into my soil. In the morning, the man called it a ‘cigarette,’ and threw it away.
They watched him every night. They watched everything he did, and he never knew.
I have questions...why the tears?...what becomes of the Daffodil? Already I am drawn into the Story!