One unexpected side effect of drawing the plants and flowers around me in my art practice over the years is that I’ve grown sensitive to their life force and personalities. Each one seems to hold a story/lesson for us when we are open to listen. Here is a poem I wrote this summer – one that has been a stark reminder of what it means to love and to lose. Impermanence makes me realize how courageous it is to love in this life when you know nothing can last forever.
Leaf, branch, hand, companion, friend
I’m not sure when it started,
When I first noticed his presence.
Like other friendships,
It’s hard to remember
when and why we made that
first meaningful connection.
He’s been living in the garden where I draw,
There every day to greet me.
On days when I’m busy,
On days I feel alone,
And in my most vulnerable moments
when I try to sing.
He started to wave to me
when I would ask questions.
Like he was trying to help me.
And when I finally noticed him fully,
I could see we moved with a similar vibration.
He would quiver under my hand,
And I could feel the force of life in him.
Two quivering beings in this world,
Trying to get by in an often
cold and unrelenting reality,
Trying to make sense of being here.
So it was a sad moment for me to see him
Pulled from the ground,
Like a weed.
I tried to save him,
Put him in a precious vase.
He still quivered when I was near
And I could see he was confused and amused
How strange a life for a plant
to be in a house with
People and pets coming and going.
But his power was too strong for us —
His nature was never meant to stay
in a vase, in a house forever.
I gasped when I saw the attack.
My cat tearing him apart.
The violence, the pain.
A force for such beauty
And terror —
It is so humbling to know it is in each of us
And the ones we love and trust too.
I’m still trying to make sense
Of all these unusual feelings
Trying to let go
Of this leaf, this friend.
I still can’t remove him from the vase.
To let go, move on,
Forget the empty space he left
in the garden, and in my heart.
Nature, time, life
Are filled with such
Beauty and connection
And sadness and terror too.
He is just a leaf
But I love him.
I am not sure I will ever
know how to love and lose
in this life.