A Galaxy Unraveling

Walking to work, I saw a very peculiar thing on the sidewalk.  Its color was soft and meek:  a whimsical fluff, a piece of delicate detritus which had somehow lost its way and now lay defenseless on the granite causeway.

What was it?

I couldn't pass it by – it was too bizarre, too exquisite, to ignore.  It looked at first like a mass of grounded feathers, a detached wing, having somehow come to grief in a garish and unidentified battle.  I peered closer closer, and the feathers because an explosion of silky fibers, and the wing opened into a seed pod, split and exposing a galaxy of birth, unraveling at my feet.

Its job was almost complete – only one seed remained. 

Inside the barren husk, flights of fancy cast about the milky depths.  I saw threads light enough to have burst from a captive princess' spinning wheel, sheer enough to embroider a satin bodice.  They had loosed their future generations on the wind, bound for nurseries unknown.

I saw sparks of light in the constellation of strands – electric, white-hot filaments creating a grid of vibrant synapses.  The finely spun froth seemed destined to melt, like fishes' breath rising from the waves.  And yet, for all the life the life I saw inside this discarded shell, this was a dead thing.

I picked it up carefully, cradling it against the intrusive breezes, emboldened by the onrush of Spring.  I carried it to work and once there brought it to my desk, where I could further admire it.  But perhaps my admiration was shelfish; perhaps I should have left it outside, where it would have dissolved into Nature's graveyard, a part of the greening of her most precious jewel.

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12 responses to “A Galaxy Unraveling

  1. how beautiful. it resembles starbursts against a black sky. shall you release it into nature? or does it wait confused on your work desk?

  2. It really was so beautiful. Its fate was this: I found it on Friday. It stayed on my desk until Monday, when I brought my camera to work. I took these pictures and then…threw it away…
    You're right – I should have returned it.

  3. its photographs are inspiring (even if its final fate was not 😦 )

  4. You leave me breathless.In India, we used to call these silky floaters 'old woman's hair'.

  5. I was going to guess milkweed, too. So beautiful! words and images both. I especially love how you describe it as a galaxy of birth.

  6. Wow! I haven't seen Milkweed in SO LONG! It's one of my favorite things about spring back home…even though it makes me sneeze.

  7. I did a quick image search and it does look like milkweed. I'm such a botanical bumblehead, I had no idea!

  8. Beautifully written, the spark of constellations is a wonderful sight. It does look like a milkweed "husk" and hairs. Funny because that's our friend the Monarch's favorite food (even before it turns into a butterfly)!
    But alas, I believe that instead it is your tiny princess sending you a signal to rescue her and give her a home on your desk! 😉

  9. It is beautiful, but don't apologize for throwing the pod away. Out here milkweed is really a weed, and a prolific one at that. I can remember many a summer wrestling with the darn things in the garden: their roots and stems are really tough, and they like the same growing conditions as tomatoes, so guess where I always found them? On the other hand, they kept the caterpillars from nibbling on the veggies…well, most of the time.

  10. This is really beautiful. the pictures and the writing. I love it.

  11. Pingback: Spelling It Out | The Task at Hand

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