What the Foxglove Said to the Moonflower

“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.

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24 thoughts on “What the Foxglove Said to the Moonflower

  1. You are such a brilliant writer. Do you write for a living? Facing that same wind myself, the hard slapping kind.

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      I am an academic writer and have published some poetry. This is my first attempt to produce any work in this genre, however. I’m struggling to find a voice. Thank you for your kind words. Courage to you while you make your stand in the wind, friend.

  2. Sid says:

    Your transparent sensitive writing is like good chocolate to read. You inspire me and I am so happy to be “following” you! Thanks for all of the energy you put out here! There’s one of my favorite quotes from Shug up there! Wonderful read!

  3. Lrong says:

    Nice prose… and pretty pics… are those your children?

  4. Phillip Hinz says:

    Have you ever tried writing in the voice of a plant?

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      I have not. But I have an idea for a short story that takes the voice of a tree. I’ve never been brave enough to pick up a pen and try it, however.

  5. Your writing stirred such emotion in me. I am struggling right now with change and find myself literally propped against that windowsill looking out and not feeling able to move some days…your words inspire and I love Shug…

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      I’m so very glad you got something out of what I wrote. I think we are all a little stronger for knowing that other people are facing hard winds. I love Shug too!

  6. Love that you shifted gears, no warning, just a gift from nowhere (or everywhere), like a blossom we didn’t plant but smile with anyway. Please keep speaking! 😀 !!!

  7. Margaret Katranides says:

    Hope it worked for you, too, Sho’ Nuff. I hope that putting it out there helped you find a wind-break. Though the trees that stand against the wind become stronger, sometimes we just need a little shelter, a little pot of marigolds. Love you…

  8. Barbara says:

    Just beautiful!

  9. Andrea says:

    I just found you, how so lovely to linger on your words. I am so awed with envy, as my mind only knows how to put words together without that lovely drama. I guess scientists really write directly and perhaps literary writer-scientists are very seldom, so Lewis Thomas didn’t have much competitors. And i love your photos too!

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      Thank you for your lovely compliments. Though I am not a scientist, I am a professional academic in the social sciences, and don’t have very much experience writing “literary” work.This blog helps me get away from the very stuffy technical language of the academic world. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

  10. Susan says:

    Beautiful, beautiful writing. Protect the part of you which is your true essence. Take heart, sweet one, life will get better.

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