18.4.18 Grape hyacinths, back garden
I have felt newly aware of my solitude recently. Suddenly, there is too much space - there is all this room around me. I find myself wishing for it to be filled, warmly and satisfyingly, like a belly is filled.
It makes me newly aware of my skin and how little connects with it. It is hard not to feel cold and small in this feeling of vastness. I get a little lost in it. It makes me want to collide with something bigger than me, something with pulse and vitality. I want to touch life and have it touch me back. To feel all joined up, somehow.
So, I drift. I sigh. I open the back door. And the garden welcomes me with patient, open arms and I step right into them.
There, I find it: that joining. My hands have work to do and there is a receiving of my labour, an acquiescence, a yielding that makes me feel whole and solid and seen. I sit on the dirty floor, abandon gloves and trowels, and push into the sticky compost like a midwife. I tip seeds, sleeping into my cupped palm and paw through them, selecting life, selecting futures, and the seeds do nothing but wait and trust.
There is such tender intimacy in it, such nurturing. Just as I would with anything else in my orbit, I attend to each thing with a careful, deliberate confidence and it feels good to let myself. The white clematis that will open ruffled rosettes in a month has grown into a tight knot, clutching desperately at itself with dry, hard tendrils. I trace the stems of it, running my fingers along its lines from the soil up to its highest shoots, under, over, through its tangle, seeing where to snip carefully, to draw individual vines apart. Under my gaze, it gradually starts to open, to open and loosen, until all its growth can be spread wide and tied to supports in expansive, grateful submission. It can breathe now, I can feel it, and I feel the worth course through me that I could minister to it.
I tease crowded seedlings apart too, pushing into the soil to make a nest for them, tucking their filaments down with sure hands, and I imagine them feeling safe. The bleeding heart holds up crystal balls of rainwater for me to peer into and bless, and last year's peonies tentatively try to grow again: red-faced, forgiven. The rose trusts me with my scissors to take what is needed from its over-eager shoots, to coax its shape from it. Things thought dead push new heads above the soil and I know their name. When the apple tree finally blossoms I know that there will be seven flowers in each cluster, although each is still clenched tight for now.
What an honour it is to get to hold the memory of something when it is not yet itself again, or has forgotten. I get to picture summer growth and make space for it. I get to hold each plant and living thing in perfect trust. I know what you are, I say, and, somehow, it knows me back. It is such a perfect alignment of love and need that I can hardly dare blink.
Here I can be myself. The garden welcomes my over-eager hands and my broken feet. I sit with it and soothe and tend and it does nothing but grow in response. It pours itself into the space around me until there are no gaps left to feel.
A wren is singing, bold and known and mine from the wild rose across the street. I can see it, even hidden where I am behind two walls because I know every breath of this place.
The cheek of me, I realise, to try and feel lonely in this. The brazen disrespect. I'm sorry, garden. I'm sorry. I gather it all in, and once again, for now at least, it is all, perfectly, enough.