On my way home, I always walk by a small garden. It reached to the edge of a wooden door, with pale, thirsty branches. It extended the length of the wall in a patterned mesh; a crochet of varied greens – mint, sage, olive, lime – woven on a loom that never felt the pressure of human hands. Leaves were sharp and serrated. They balanced like verdant stars.
The thin stems interlocked like witches' fingers, and pulled apart like splintering wood. I looked closely and saw myriad paths wandering deeper into their desiccated depths. I saw the swirling eye of a bird's nest, an overgrown circle still marked with the fairies' footprints, bleached hay waiting to be slaughtered and harvested, corridors leading into stories and adventures happening again and again, withdrawn from the wide world.
Sparking the tops of these brittle stems were sharp bursts of color: sapphire, cadmium, magenta and white. Flowers that bloomed quickly and then exhaled into splashes of dried paint ready to crumble at the first touch. Their fragile colors, drained of sap, rattled in the warm evening breeze: their brightness a protest against their weary life.
This was not a lush, luxuriant collection of plants, drinking deeply from the dark wines of the earth's cellars. These plants did not grow expansively with leaves like pleated fans, with healthy and irrigated petals that curled and folded into supple curves. These flowers did not paint the air molecules with fragrance, so that when caught in the sunlight they would fall like colored particles of dust.
These were wild flowers, though planted by a careful and loving hand. These were the types of flowers that are embroidered into an untamed girl's blouse, cultivated by a crooked needle and coarse thread. These are the 'sweet flowers' that were woven into singing Ophelia's hair. These flowers were collected into a hurried bouquet by the younger son of the house, to be given to his favorite milkmaid.
These were the flowers, blooming into feral gardens, that pushed their imperfect faces through the ruptured brick walls of castles that guarded darkly and waited for the invaders to cross the borders.
This was a garden with secrets to tell anyone willing to stop and ask, "please, just one more story?"