DEADHEADING MARIGOLDS

By John Thomas Tuft

She stands in the middle of the garden, her arms wrapped around her belly, as if to hold herself close. Or perhaps to hold something inside of her. Maybe there really is no difference. Sometimes she listens to those who say if we but ask the universe to manifest our desires, they shall be ours. Others say you might as well wish upon a star. Maybe there really is no difference. The pose, her arms above her waist and below her breasts, each hand cradling her sides, head tilted to one side, eyes closed as sun-warmed wind distresses her hair into tiny banners of battles past and hearts unwon, is a portrait of a pensive pilgrim. Or perhaps a rogue knight riding off to crusades. Maybe there really is no difference. She is a doula of desires, a denizen of dreams, who dances with demons and fairies alike. The beauty of her youth is fading away but, as in deadheading marigolds, new beauty awaits its birth from within her. As long as she is willing to accept its new charter, its redefining of presence and purpose, its delineation of rightful destiny.

Patricia, or Patsy as everyone calls her, has walked the fields of Culloden, touched the stones of the fallen warriors of the Scottish clans, longed to touch the stones of Craigh na Dun with their siren call to a different time, a different world. To be an Outlander, loose in a world where she knows how things turn out while her world continues on without her, is an ultimate fantasy of another chance, another set of vows and promises, lovers and adventures. While back here her husband Harry is always turning the thermostat lower, cannot be bothered to make the coffee in the mornings or pick up his underwear, can’t read a GPS or ask for directions, never notices new earrings or dresses, and looks nothing like a dashing Scotsman with a sword sheathed at the hip of his plaid kilt, red curls over forever eyes. Love is locked within the history of fantasy and sewed into the fantasy of history. Maybe there really is no difference. Snip go her shears and a marigold falls to the ground, making way for new beauty…

Patsy moves to a new row of the garden, her thoughts heavy with the worries of a mother. Her father started this nursery, setting out the lay of the plots, picking plants and colors that appeal to the flourishing of one’s mind. He labored on through good years and lean ones. Customers came and went, but always for him it was about the appeal to the human spirit. Feeding a need for beauty, our desire to communicate concern, best wishes, love and affection, grief, joy to others and thus to ourselves. His work a perfect bloom. She loved to help him and was honored to take over the nursery from his weathered hands. Then she had her own children. They show little interest in her life’s work with the plants. Her son, Cuthbert after the ancient monk, develops games for phones and other devices that suck time into a vacuum of unawareness. Mandy thought she might like working with the flowers but got bored and went into marketing. Reaching out to them or preaching to them seems pointless. Maybe there really is no difference. Snip go her shears and another marigold falls to the ground, making way for new possibility…

Patsy’s back is sore and her knees ache. She just feels so tired. The sound of the wind and the different oscillating tones of the birds put her in mind of her old piano teacher. “It’s about the music, not the performance,” Mrs. Gibson always drilled into her. “Find the music in the keys and set it free. Let it speak through you. It’s not about you, dear. It’s about the music.” Before a performance, Patsy felt excited about getting into the music, setting it free. The only nerves had to do with not wanting to disappoint Mrs. Gibson. They became fast friends. As the years went by, Mrs. Gibson began to suffer with dementia. Patsy would visit her in the nursing home, bringing recordings and sheet music so they could follow along as music was born and set free. Now, her beloved mentor has passed away. Dead and gone. Snip go her shears and another marigold falls…

Patsy straightened up, dropped the shears and began to run toward the greenhouse. She found the number of the funeral home and dialed, speaking urgently, utterly determined. The rest of the afternoon she spent calling number after number. The next morning, she arrived at the funeral home for visitation time. Everything is set. In the parlor, next to the casket a baby grand piano waits patiently. The seats fill up with the former students of this teacher. One by one they free the music.  Patsy nods to ten year old Jeremy, who is nervously fidgeting as he hangs back. “It’s not about you, dear, it’s about the music. Find the music in the keys and set it free.” And he does. Music speaks to the soul and our souls speak through music. Maybe there really is no difference. Snip go the shears…

Words are magic and writers are wizards.