“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
–Shug Avery in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.
I wonder how many women gather the strength to walk face-forward into a hard blowing wind by propping their elbows on a window sill and staring blank-eyed into a pot of marigolds? The coffee in our cups, undrunk, goes cold. The cigarette in our fingers, unsmoked, burns out.
These days, even the blue sky rests heavy on my shoulders. Trees carry their history of forest fires and droughts and floods scored deep in their interior flesh. They know the value of locking their knees against gravity. The massive Pin Oak in my front yard has arms that bear the sky without trembling. It’s a mast year from the look of things. The neighborhood squirrels are secure for the winter.
I have a heart and it beats like a rabbit’s. I jump at shadows cast by the Other Shoe Perpetually Preparing to Fall. Mr. and Mrs. Hummingbird have hearts that outpace a rabbit’s. They fly and forage and fight and live and die and raise their young in thimble-nests, perfectly themselves. Emerald wisdom on wings, the female visits every bloom on the gladiola stalk.
I am a hot house annual, planted by a hand I didn’t see in a soil not of my choosing. Still, I gamely put down roots. I pushed out stems. I unfurled my leaves and petals to the sun and to the bees and butterflies. I made good fruit.
Foxgloves don’t startle awake in the dark to whisper mommy nightmares to the insomniac moonflowers. I do. Neither the petunias nor the morning glories worry about how and where their seed will fall. And yet there are always foxgloves and moonflowers, petunias and morning glories.
Elbow on the window sill, I will stare blank-eyed into a pot of marigolds. Then I will face forward and walk into the hard, hard wind.