Flower in An Empty Lot

Near where I live, there’s a flower growing in an undeveloped commercial lot. It’s a wildflower, and not a variety that people desire to own and maintain. This flower– let’s call it Flower One– is a weed. Not just that, but it’s growing in a place that no plant should ever endeavor to live.

A living thing with no long-term plan— is that really true? Is there a grand universal scheme of existence, or is life a matter of scatter, where the start and stop is distinct and rational, measured by what can be seen?

In garden shops around the world, in all the retail places where Million Bells are carefully watered, pruned, and priced, Flower One is excluded. Flower One may be pretty, but it’s nowhere near the class of the Bells. Flower One may look good at one particular moment of its cycle, but there are other flowers with longer moments, and pedigree names.

Flower One, single and pure in Hansa Yellow. Five petals in the arrangement of the star of life, universal from the starfish to the human hand. Flower One. When there’s only one to look at, it looks the best in the lot; tough with a stick for a stem but there’s a reason why tough things are tough things.

I’d be tough too, if I had to stand alone.

Flower One may look decent in a certain photograph, but there’s another floral bunch that’s just unbeatable. They don’t go by one particular species name, let’s just say they are on a team. And Flower One will never be on that team, not ever. It will never be invited to the Beautiful Bouquets, never asked to join up. It will never be on that court, nor allowed in the arena of play. Instead, Flower One is destined to be stepped on, in the patron’s trek to the stadium.

I love Flower One. I want to go to the wind-swept construction site and scoop it up, gather the dirt, preserve the rootball, and coax that plant like the fool that I am. I want to give Flower One water, even though it’s built for long draughts and days of rainy deluge. I want to give it real soil, full of nutrients and free of bugs, even though it’s growing just fine in the wastes of worse than third-rate beach sand.

Would Flower One be okay in my living room? Would the comfortable temperature control suit it? Would a dedicated pot encourage its growth, preserve its life? How could it not thrive with the certainty of environment, and the care of attention, and the regularity of kind, spoken words?

Why would it not thrive with me?

Because it belongs outside.

Because it throve on no words, ever. Because it’s alive solely due to the harsh world, that is its normal condition.

Oh, I’ve got inklings of the damage I’ve done, and I’ve not moved an inch.

I’ll never venture to remove Flower One as I’ve wished, I could never break and subject that plant to the possible miss. That which it knows is something I know far too well. There is so much stacked against it, how could I slog out to rescue a perfectly free and healthy being?

One of trillions of such beings! Why just one, and why just it?

Flower One isn’t just battling the lack of love. It’s flourishing in the wrong place. You see, my home is scheduled to be built on the spot it grows.

The plant is going to be stepped on, by workers carrying sheetrock. The tractors driving over it will be grading my waterway slope. This is what happens in the world.

I pity Flower One.

Pity is the deadly shot that rushes out of a man’s pores, with no preparation to present to the jury. The jury sits in my judgement, and I plead nothing, on the effects of my discharge. I offer nothing but admit that the pity, indeed came from me. I couldn’t stop it. I can’t take it back, and I can’t take it away. My pity is what really slaughtered Flower One.

My pity diminished the natural course of that plant’s life, long before the workmen came to the build site.

My lawyer wanted me to plead that my pity was assigned to me, that it came from a good place. I waved him away. It’s all on me.

My lawyer wants me to stop talking, now. If it pleases the court, I’ll continue. I’ll talk to whomever will listen, this has to be said.

There has to be a long-term plan, far beyond mankind’s comprehension, because the jury that’s tasked to me is going to need more than a rational measurement of what can simply be seen. I destroyed a life that no one regarded but me, no one knew about but me, no one knew where it lived but me. Where, is here. My heart. That lot.

My crime: I considered the construction-site weed to be something that required my involvement. And I believed that the plant was to be felt sorry for, and a candidate to be interfered with, in order for it to be made “right”. All that was my mistake.

I have a few requests. To the long-term plan: Will you watch out for me? Would you please take away the crush I feel? Because that plant’s place and purpose were not valueless, no life’s is, and my flaw again and again is forgetting that lesson, so patiently shown to me. By you.

Dear Flower One: A long-term plan can set this right. Because it’s not just one. And not just you. If my crime was not a transgression at all– as my lawyer and others argue– then there were many plants and forms of life that could have, should have been considered saving, on an equal basis as you. And that would have been maddening to conceive and impossible to execute. At this moment I understand that your life, all life, has the course of independence. You grow, and you’ll go, on a timetable away from my wristwatch and calendar. I did you a disservice, not by my building a home where you live, but by thinking I knew better than what put you there.

A photograph and some awkward writing are but two open hands, vainly searching to come together but never shall, here on Earth. The long-term plan can account for this by spreading a greater understanding, a guide through the pain and loss that can’t be resolved, by any man.

CAPTION: Flower in An Empty Lot.

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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5 Responses to Flower in An Empty Lot

  1. Clive Donald Watts. says:

    A lovely piece.
    Ara, you have a gift – to open up our minds from the simplest of things.

  2. Anonymous says:

    But if the plant can hurry and cast its seeds who knows what will be?

    Great stuff Ara keep it up.

    • Agreed, and thank you. There is no doubt the plant and its kind will endure. The issue I grapple with is the damage I did by thinking I had a right to “save” Flower One. I chose it because it was pretty, which was a Beautiful Bouquet value and not a Flower One value. (“Why just one? And why just it?”) (What about all these other plants that are doomed on this construction lot? Why should only Flower One be saved?) Worse, when I pitied Flower One, I devalued its life, and that was within my own heart. That’s the crux of the problem here. I didn’t accept that this thing’s lifespan, and place on Earth is exactly as it should be.

  3. Clive Donald Watts. says:

    It makes more sense now in that you are the one who is responsible for Flower One`s demise. I am not sure I agree totally with your last statement of your reply to one of the comments……”I didn`t accept that this things lifespan, and place on earth is exactly as it should be”.. Of course, yes in the case of this single flower, but no in the case of the human destruction of nature.

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