“Then when I was distraught
And could not speak,
Sidelong, full on my cheek,
What should that reckless zephyr fling
But the wild touch of thy dye-dusty wing!
I found that wing broken to-day!
For thou are dead, I said,
And the strange birds say.
I found it with the withered leaves
Under the eaves.”
Robert Frost “My Butterfly”
It’s always interesting to me that I can be standing in a sea of blooming flowers full of fragrance, color and beauty and see nothing of interest. I see nothing that is beautiful, I sense smells that nauseate me, and the colors offend my eyes due to the lack of organization. I work with flowers all day, I smell their sweet perfume, I see their happy flower faces day long, and still, to this day, flowers don’t take my sorrows away.
I tend to get sick of people telling me “you must love working here, you’re surrounded by all these cool plants, all these cool fountains, all of this nature. It’s paradise isn’t it!”
In a word, no. Hell no. Not even a sliver. It’s work, and people can’t understand that work is just that. Work. On a deeper level, however, the flowers that are supposed to enliven me and pump me full of happiness and gratitude for working someplace with so much beauty, it also has periods of extreme ugliness, just like our lives. You can have feast or famine, things can be going really well or really bad and typically the line of demarcation between the two is pretty thin. When I’m among my flowers, my nature, my what they call paradise, I reflect on all the things I’ve lost, all the things that I’ve left behind, and more hurtful all the things that have left me. I get depressed, really depressed.
Something about all of those flowers, blooming, waiting to go home with somebody to make them happy. Little flowers in little pots, half of them only to be ripped up again and torn up. Flying from the beloved flower in the pot to the foliage to slowly rot in a landfill or compost pile somewhere. What once brought joy was now “too ugly” to keep around. The annual flower either dies or just losses it’s desirability. Without a hesitation it’s tossed. I have compassion for all those that get tossed, I have compassion for those plants not because they’re in pain, but because they’ve been tossed aside. They’re no longer good for anybody. That little plant that once made somebody light up is now slowly decomposing and becoming less and less of the beautiful thing it once was.
I feel like a cast aside annual flower sometimes. The type that looks great on the shelf then gets adopted by some novice gardener only to underwater, then over water, try to burn with fertilizer, and put it in some sort of pot that isn’t just right. I cannot perform in subpar conditions, I can try….just like that little flower in the wrong place can try, but it’s not going to be successful. The relationship between nurturer and nurturee is a fragile one. Plants, however, cannot speak up for themselves and say “hey, I don’t like it here”….and neither can I for that matter at times. I’m a flower that has no voice. This depresses me, this makes me want to change.
Thus the poem come into play. This poem has been one of my favorite for almost a decade now. The imagery of me laying on my side, resting my cheek in the crook of my arm laying in a field of grass contemplating all that has fluttered away. I can see each little memory flutter about like a butterfly, and although I’d love to catch them and keep them in a jar by my bedside for comfort, I know they’re happier being free. I continue to lay in the cool grass in my distraught state, silently, waiting for the right words to come and the right person to orate to. I run through sentences in my head of things I should have said but didn’t, actions I should have done, but failed. I see my ever aggravating ability to remain silence during serious things but act like a 9 year old when given the opportunity. I’m a child, I never grew up.
As I lay in the grass and watch those butterflies of memories dance in the blue sky, diving and swerving I notice a change in behavior. Those memories that once danced and were happy, those memories of times of yore, are gone, they’re twisted, the dark side of the happy memories emerge and the dance of the mental butterflies turns into a pathetic struggle to stay in flight. The struggle get more severe as the happy memories are tarnished by the darkness of surrounding situations. The butterfly fall to the ground and the sky turns black.
Your memories are dead, they’ve died along with a little piece of your heart for all that you’ve lost and all that you’ve left behind. You scramble to bring them to life, lay in your side, on your cheek, and you try to muster up images of those memories to try to resuscitate them. No breath could bring life into your feelings, your memories are now hurting you, and you’re worst off when you started. Fucking butterflies, (memories) why do you have to be so beautiful?
“I cannot fly,But bear-like I must fight the course”
William Shakespeare MacBeth
You cannot give up on life and succumb to the terrorist memories of a life gone. You cannot flee and evade them either, coming to terms with your haves and have nots, your missing links, and your “ones that got away”. If life were to be lived in the past, our calendars would be set up different, our watches would work different and life wouldn’t be such a race to the end. Every precious breath of life can be a battle ground, and you can’t escape it. You could, of course, by taking the sweet relief of suicide, but that solves nothing and will get nobody closure on what makes you so encompassed in your thoughts anyways. There are times when boxers don’t want to fight anymore, times that runners hurt but push through. This is life, and it’s your choice, are you going to push through, or watch dying butterflies?