Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Daisy Forest

The graveyard these past weeks has been full of white daisies. I call them Shasta daisies, but others call them oxeye daisies, and there are likely other names. I have loved that the people who mow between the graves have left the flowers standing until the last possible moment, a white mini forest.

My young friend Cloud (well, that’s not her real name, but she has one of those momma was a hippie nature names) has been sleeping in the daisy forest. They are tall enough to hide her from easy view, and in the middle of that tossing, blossoming wave of bloom there are a few nice concrete graves, good for putting your blanket on, or your pile of cardboard. It’s one of the safer places to be a woman alone, with no resources. At least for the moment.

Cloud reminds me of my latest cat, Smudgie. It took a long time to coax Smudgie into our shop; she preferred to stay out of reach in the top of the ancient plum tree, even through the storms of winter. She is a beautiful cat, but still easily alarmed, though now she waits for treats and likes to supervise my typing, and loves to cuddle Champ the pitbull. The key for Smudgie was never insisting, never intruding, always being ready to step back and start again. And again.

Cloud’s friend, who is in jail at the moment, told me a few months ago that Cloud was pregnant. I asked him to have her come see me, so we could talk. He said she was crying in their camp,  not wanting another baby taken by  the authorities. I told him I’d help her, but there was a lot to be done. Authorities do not look kindly on young women living on the street. Especially young women with mental health issues and drug issues who end up in jail a lot. But I told him…who knows, we can try.

Cloud didn’t come in. I’d see her from a distance. I’d hear of arrests, of beatings, of..situations. One day she showed up and asked for some food. I said, as I handed her a bag of fruit and bread, your guy says…..and she said “Oh, God, no, I can’t be pregnant, that would be crazy, I’m not pregnant”. She was very firm on the point. Okay, I said. But if you were…you know you can talk with me. She left.

And she was jailed, out of jail, in the next town. Friends would bring me reports, knowing my concern for her.

Today she walked in. “I heard you were at the emergency room last night” I said. “sounds like you’ve been having some hard times”. For the first time in a while she was clear. Off drugs, at least off discernable drugs. Coherent, focused.

“You know that talk we had a while ago?” she asked. “Yes”. “Well, yeah, it’s true. I am pregnant”. “Okay. What do you want to do?”

“I want this baby. Can you help me get in touch with the women’s shelter?”

Phone call made, message left. Call returned. Mary knows a lot about Cloud, because months ago I talked to her about this young woman, and told her I was waiting, just waiting, until she was ready to try to be clear and seek shelter and care. Mary, heaven love her, said “Well, this is great. We’ve got a long road, but you’ve managed to get her to take this first step, that’s amazing”

She’s coming as quickly as possible from out of town, to meet with my young friend and try to coax her in. Quickly as possible, however, in my region means that with luck she will arrive by nightfall. And we will hope to find our young friend still sober, momentarily undrugged, and willing to come in from the cold.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Technical Difficulties

I’ve been looking at a photograph of one of my favorite flowers, a dandelion. I let them grow where they will, because they are good for wishes, and medicinal, and edible, and invariably bright. They make me smile.

And they grow all over the world, these bold marauders. The photo in front of me was taken on the outskirts of Tokyo & is captioned “second mutated dandelion found”

The dandelion in the photo has a stem that seems curiously thickened. The flower is—well, it seems twisted, multiplied, as if it had begun as one blossom and then became, in its struggle, eight or nine. They are crimped, these joined, changed flowers.

The man who put the photo up for all to see, well, he’s alarmed. He lives in Tokyo. News is shut down as to what the levels of radiation are, what’s happening. He sends this photo out into the world, a small link.

It’s not much different than here, when you think on it. There are those minute stories—some debris hitting land in the north. Not much else. If anyone is checking radiation—well, they aren’t saying.

These are the days of spring in which really all I want to do is sink my hands into the earth, to mull over gardens, to adore the first roses and the fleeting lilac, to try to grow a bit of food. I want to drowse and dream in the sunlight like my cats and watch the ferns unfurl. I don’t want to be bothered. Voltaire knew my heart, yes, I want to cultivate my garden and pretend all is well, all is safe, no one is hurt, hungry, jailed, despairing.

The flowers are so beautiful. I love the yellow dandelions, seeding here and there, growing through gravel, unstoppable.

Spring brings the river floods and the flood of travelers. Some with books, some with dogs, all with hope or desperation, all with stories. Some of the stories are pretty and some far from it.

And I think of what I know and what I don’t know. The facts, the current events—these sift away, lost in the winds of springtime.

There were dandelions at the edge of the Boboli gardens decades ago when I heard, belatedly, of deaths in my home country. There were dandelions at the edge of almost every grave I’ve visited, and every place I’ve wandered, with children, with lovers, with my hurting heart.

I’ve always made wishes. Just a breath. Out to the universe.

Connection is an odd thing. It’s been on my mind as I’ve come from gardens & distractions, since in these odd days I can see a Tokyo dandelion in a second, or talk to a friend in Europe or in Palestine—but these weeks, the connection has been frail.

Technical difficulties. Not like—oh look, the plant is drooping, water it. But—everything falls apart. I’ve been dealing with technicians and long distance advice and at last my dirt and ink stained hands and a calm, if snarly, mind.

What connects & disconnects, it would seem, is one fine pin. A little sharp point like the tip of my pen.

It’s like the old nursery rhyme in which a whole kingdom is lost because there’s not a handy nail.

And I thought—we each sometimes think how insignificant we are. How vast the world, how complex. How full of joy and heartbreak and dance and rebellion—and how do we fit? Why do we matter?

In this world of dandelions of Fukishima, who knows…you might be the connector. That one tiny, insignificant, absolutely important piece.

The universe just might spin around you, your perfect, imperfect, yearning being.

And maybe—if you are just a tiny pin in the great scheme of things—maybe angels are dancing there.