Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It just occurred to me that wild carrots have sprouted only once on the slope near the sidewalk in front of my mother’s house. That was about three years ago. My sons and I noticed them while working in the area. The roots were a pale cream-color, nicely formed, quite small, and aromatic — carrot and soil and something heavenly and elusive combined, like a memory grown ripe in waiting.
Before pulling them out, the idea of letting the plants go to seed flitted through my mind. But I knew from experience that doing so would not guarantee their proliferation, or even their return. In an instant, the decision was made to satisfy our curiosity, to be wild ourselves in honor of our ancient human past.
The carrots of our minds were made manifest. We became alert. The sun shone a little brighter. Our senses rejoiced.
The carrots were startled at first, but they grew calm when they heard our voices filled with admiration. They yielded, and were delicate in our hands. I thought of clouds, and wondered how much soft white goose down the biggest ones of my childhood might have contained. When they became snagged on power poles beside the road, feathers would scatter and be lost on the breeze. So would dreams.
I tasted one of the carrots, felt the tip of the root on my tongue. The flavor reminded me of the newly found face of a friend.
From Songs and Letters, originally published August 15, 2006.
In the Forum: Ben King’s Verse.