What do flowers know?

One of the flowers in my chain-link fence, Omaha. Dancers performing a Mozart Requiem Mass

One of the flowers in my chain-link fence, Omaha. Dancers performing a Mozart Requiem Mass

Upon the death of my neighbor in Omaha

 

A chain link fence
separates my dwelling from my neighbor
I barely knew her
we seldom spoke.

Last night my neighbor came on the evening news
they said she was a teacher
renowned for her gardening
loved by her students.

Reporters and cameras covered the street
fire trucks with
their rotating lights struggled
to penetrate the oppression
acrid smoke ensnared everything.

Tiny flowers on wispy vines
cling to the fence in such profusion
they almost hide its existence
they have strange hours
these evanescent flowers
that only remain open in the morning.

The flowers bloom for the first time each year
as the summer season is about to die
bloom explosively
early in the morning they appear
only before first light
they appear.

Lavender, magenta, rose red, and white
small fragile stars with five petals
flaunt their vivid colors.

The fence flowers are more profuse
than ever late this afternoon
this is strange
it never happened before.

Just before the sun reaches its zenith
the fence flowers
always quickly tighten into cones
become invisible in the dark vines.

Fire erupted in my neighbor’s house
as she slept unaware
smoke choked the life out of her
just before first light.

No one knew until it was too late
only the fence flowers witnessed it
bright, silent witnesses
lavender, magenta, rose red, and white.

When smoke enveloped the flowers
as they awakened
at first light
did they inhale the fragrance of a soul
with an inscrutable sense
as it fled its earthly body?

Do they tell me that a soul flower now blooms
where we cannot see it
illuminated in brilliance
in a faraway garden?

During the winter when the vines shrivel up
and fall to the dirt
you believe they can’t come back
they reunite with the earth
they’re dead
you see the end of them.

Yet now the flowers
glow brighter than ever.

 

“And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty.” (Baha’u’llah)

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What did the flowers know?

One of the flowers in my chain-link fence, Omaha. Dancers performing a Mozart Requiem Mass

One of the flowers in my chain-link fence, Omaha. Dancers performing a Mozart Requiem Mass

A poem about the death of my neighbor in Omaha

 

A chain link fence
separates my dwelling from my neighbor
I barely knew her
we seldom spoke.

Last night my neighbor was on the evening news
they said she was a teacher
renown for her gardening
loved by her students.

Reporters and cameras covered the street
as did the fire trucks
their rotating lights struggled
to penetrate the oppression
acrid smoke ensnared everything.

Tiny flowers on wispy vines
cling to the fence in such profusion
they almost hide its very existence
they have strange hours
these evanescent flowers
because they only remain open in the morning.

The flowers appear for the first time each year
as the summer season is about to die
bloom explosively
early in the morning they appear
only before first light
they appear.

Lavender, magenta, rose red, and white
small fragile stars with five petals
seem fierce for their vivid colors.

The fence flowers are more profuse
than ever late this afternoon
this is strange
it never happened before.

Just before the sun reaches its zenith
the fence flowers
always quickly tighten into cones
become invisible in the dark vines.

Fire erupted in my neighbor’s house
as she slept unaware
smoke choked the life out of her
just before first light.

No one knew until it was too late
only the fence flowers witnessed it
bright, silent witnesses
lavender, magenta, rose red, and white.

When the smoke enveloped the flowers
as they awakened
at first light
did they recognize the fragrance of a soul
with an inscrutable sense
as it fled its earthly body?

They tell me that a soul flower now blooms
where we cannot see it
illuminated in brilliance
in a faraway garden
forever.

During the winter when the vines shrivel up
and fall to the dirt
you believe they can’t come back
they reunite with the earth
they’re dead
you see the end of them.

Today the flowers
are brighter than they ever were before.

 

“And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty.” (Baha’u’llah)

Entering the Qiblih, a Song to the Gardener

Lyrics to a song I wrote many years ago after my pilgrimage to the Qiblih.

Tree from The Lovely Phones Album on Enoch's Vision Gallery

Oh Gardener i accept Your wisdom
i do i really do accept it i do
no matter how much it hurts
i know You transplanted the sapling
to a radiant garden
i know it will thrive there forever
it was sickly and weak in this one

i can’t judge the Gardener’s doings
and i never even try
for i shall never be able
to create infinite gardens from nothingness
only the Gardener can do that

i think that if i were a garden
i would be a poor one
because i haven’t had any success so far
but i have crazy longings to grow

if You’re not too busy
and one day You notice me
which isn’t easy
because i’m not very significant
i beg now while in Your qiblih
would it just be possible
if it’s not a lot of trouble
for me to nourish another sapling
maybe a healthy one this time
if You notice me and take pity

please oh please
a healthy one or maybe two
who know about You
and are grateful
and i know i’m not much
and might never be
but please oh please
one more chance to love someone
and not be alone
please oh please
one more chance to nurture a tree

In the Baha’i Faith the Qiblih (point of adoration) is the location that Baha’is should face when saying their daily obligatory prayers, and is fixed at the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, near Akka, in present day Israel.

From the death of that beloved youth due to his separation from you the utmost sorrow and grief has been occasioned, for he flew away in the flower of his age and the bloom of his youth, to the heavenly nest.

 

But as he has been freed from this sorrow-stricken shelter and has turned his face toward the everlasting nest of the Kingdom and has been delivered from a dark and narrow world and has hastened to the sanctified realm of Light, therein lies the consolation of our hearts.

 

The inscrutable divine wisdom underlies such heart-rending occurrences. It is as if a kind gardener transfers a fresh and tender shrub from a narrow place to a vast region. This transference is not the cause of the withering, the waning or the destruction of that shrub, nay rather it makes it grow and thrive, acquire freshness and delicacy and attain verdure and fruition. This hidden secret is well-known to the gardener, while those souls who are unaware of this bounty suppose that the gardener in his anger and wrath has uprooted the shrub. But to those who are aware this concealed fact is manifest and this predestined decree considered a favor. Do not feel grieved and disconsolate therefore at the ascension of that bird of faithfulness, nay under all circumstances pray and beg for that youth forgiveness and elevation of station.

 

I hope that you will attain to the utmost patience, composure and resignation, and I supplicate and entreat at the Threshold of Oneness and beg pardon and forgiveness. My hope from the infinite bounties of God is that He may cause this dove of the garden of faith to abide on the branch of the Supreme Concourse that it may sing in the best of tunes the praises and the excellencies of the Lord of names and attributes. (‘Abdu’l-Baha)