If you walk around my house, you will see plants in several rooms, mostly getting eastern sun, from which they flourish. My plants comprise a part of my life, my history, because many of them are from people whom I love. Some plants are many years old, and every time I care for them with water, fertilizer. and trimming, I send a little thought to the person that has a connection to the plant.
The Plant Connection
Sundays, early in the day,
I water the plants, and say hello
to various relatives and friends. These plants
have lived with me for a long time, keeping the air clean and humid,
providing shades of green that are poems in themselves:
jade, teal, asparagus, celadon and chartreuse.
Their bright spark of blooms
are daily gifts to my eyes.
Here, the beefsteak begonia (Begonia erythrophylla),
from my grandmother Sarah, offers
tiny pink blooms on long, thin branches.
My grandmother, whose name also blesses
my daughter, threw seeds out that grew into her wild garden.
She wished for no calm flower beds in her yard.
As a young child, I hid among the plants,
making stories with the hens and chickens, the bluebells, and the bread and butter flowers.
And she taught me how wonderful are the houseplants,
keeping growing in mind during the drab months of winter.
There, the Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata),
lopped off at one time
because of its leaning tendency,
springing now into the largest plant, healthy, vibrant, strong.
It came to me as a remembrance of my
father-in-law. He, years gone, but too soon, comes into
my memory as I water and trim the leaves.
I remember his loving teasing, his gardening expertise
that fed us well in our early marriage—
the rich red of the tomatoes, bright yellow corn on the cob, the cool green of lettuces.
I water less the phalaenopsis, purple orchid, but attend to it
nonetheless. It is a gift from a friend to honor my mother’s passing.
I think of friendship and my mother
as I pass by.
There are others: the peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
from another dear one’s funeral,
the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera)
begun as a tiny sprout from a neighbor,
the Old Man cactus (Cephalocereus senilis),
a birthday gift from my husband,
and the shamrock (Oxalis regnellii) given to me
from a friend so long ago.
The plant and the friendship, still thriving.
I finish the watering by giving thanks for my blessings, of houseplants and friends, of blossoms and family. Like the plants, my life fills with the careful tending of my friends and family too.