from sky to seed

Daffodil

Spring officially arrived last Thursday, and the daffodils are shrugging their way through the coyote gray fields. They are temporary, brief blooms, but no less lovely.

Jon came home the other day clutching a thick bouquet of them in his hands. He’d sliced the top half off of a water bottle to make a vase, and came through the front door carrying them with all the pride and intention of a cat with a dead mouse.

I took it from his hands and buried my nose in the blooms to take in the pulpy, sharp fragrance, then transferred them to a glass jar.

I suppose I’m telling you this because because a part of me is extraordinarily proud to be loved by a man who brings daffodils home willy nilly and for no reason at all, and that’s true, but I don’t want you to get the impression that we’re somehow fit for TV. We are plagued by all the irritations and irks of most couples. Jon leaves his socks on the floor and isn’t the best about putting away dishes; And surely there is a list of misdeeds I do that bother Jon, but he’s not as vocal about his complaints as me about him. (**duly noted: stop unnecessary nagging)

The other day, a friend of mine called to report and dissect her latest dating disaster. At some point she said something like, “I just want to be in a relationship and be happy!”

And I said, “Whoa… wait a minute. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re always happy.”

And that’s true. It made her feel better. When I recited the story to Jon that evening, he was surprised, almost hurt.

“You’re not happy?”

Of course that’s not true. I tried to explain that just not all the time, and then we had a bit of an argument, which is a shame.

And then the next day he wordlessly brought home daffodils.

My God, I wanted to say, you are so beloved to me.

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Last February, I listened to every podcast in the This American Life Chocolate Box of Love Stories and the one entitled “Stay,” which is about the book of poetry Donald Hall wrote after the death of his wife, Jane Kenyon, made me feel like someone had hit me behind the knees. It was so beautiful, so moving, that I bought the collection, Without.

A few fragments that keep reciting themselves to me in my brain:

Why were they not / contented, four months ago, because / Jane did not have / leukemia? A year hence, would he question / why he was not contented / now?

Shortly after she dies, the daffodils she planted in their yard bloom, and a year later, bloom again:

Your daffodils rose up / and collapsed in their yellow / bodies on the hillside

I believe in the miracles of art but what prodigy will keep you safe beside me — Jane Kenyon

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