My Third Thing


My third thing is the bright orange blossom I found unexpectedly on the hibiscus bush with all the brown, dead leaves. She was lying low next to the planter box wall. She shook and shivered in the stream of water I bathed her with. Her face turned down then up again, grateful for the rain even if it came from a human hand rather than the divine sky.

My third thing is the beautiful blossom I took a picture of yesterday. It was beautiful because it was near wilting but still retained its dignity, just as my town attempts to do. Her petals were curled at the edges, but her stamen was strong, bright yellow, three furry tips and a feathered shaft, open, ready. Today I found her completely wilted, not brown yet but closed and drooping. I wondered what had happened overnight to cause her such sadness. Perhaps she had lived her life quietly and, but for the brief moment I snapped the photograph, mostly in anonymity as one small part of the bush by the pool that we very rarely notice. Even splashing by it, she looked on, maybe lonely, and we never saw her until I decided it was finally too hot to ignore the plants altogether and gave her a bath, too late.

My third thing is the plant over by the wilted blossom which bears clusters of flowers I can’t identify. I thought it was mock orange at first, but a bank of mock orange, that I know for sure is mock orange, stands stoically next to it, shading the side of the house, and this plant is certainly not one of their grim yet sweet-smelling council. She is the only plant of her kind in the yard. Her leaves are brown too and her buds are barely surviving. Perhaps one day she’ll tell me her name as I shower her and sing to her the way I do the other plants. Cosmically the singing and love-talk is supposed to get them all going. Un-cosmically I think it’s the life-saving water in the blaring heat.

I have even encouraged the volunteer grass in the empty planter bed to grow. i noticed it was almost dead this morning, with just a few leaves sticking out. It reminded me of that poem about rats wanting to survive more savagely than the narrator. It’s like that with volunteer grass, so I rewarded it for its trouble.


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