My Less-Than-Green Thumb

I finally gave up on a plant today–one that I’ve been trying to resurrect for the better part of two years. There were months when it flourished and reached toward the rare sunshine coming through the window with a fierceness in its leaves, months when I would praise it and daydream which pot I could move it to when it grew biggger and stronger.

But always there were days that it seemed to have one branch already in the afterlife, and I would stash my hopes from the shiny square potter sitting emtpy on my patio once more. Today, I finally had to quit this plant for good. I hate moments like this, when I finally must admit defeat and toss into the garbage something I’ve cared for and whispered to, pruned and tended. I have to remind myself that there are plenty more plants out there, robust and ready to be loved on, and that I needn’t waste too much time on the sickly ones. Some plants just seem determined to wilt, and at some point I’ve got to dump them out and look for another one. Extended metaphor for my love life, anyone?

Anyhoo, the sad scene today made me remember an old poem of mine:


But For the Nodes from Where the Last One Grew




The last orchid blossom from an ailing plant

lies on the bookshelf, facing the wall.

Moist and ballerina-sweater pink,

the delicate droop of its firm petals

has already begun.

This final blossom hit the wooden shelf

though I never heard it drop, or saw it descend.

What time passed before I noticed

the lonesome green stem, empty

but for the nodes from which

blossoms used to grow?

The leaves below the stem still flourish,

bright and thick. Pushing my finger down

into the moss, then the soil that houses the roots,

I find the degree of wetness just right

for an orchid to grow.

All was well here.

For days I cannot move the flower.

It remains where it fell, one petal

caressing the brown ceramic pot.

It seems wrong to toss this blossom with the trash,

let it mix with egg shells and rot. But burial

would be too final, and we’ve had enough of those.

Instead I hold the orchid in my palm, carry it

to the windowsill and let it dry in the sun.

It can bear witness as I begin again with the plant.


One thought on “My Less-Than-Green Thumb

  1. Yesterday I left all my tomato plants in my car overnight (this is the second year I’ve used my Subaru as a greenhouse), and every single one died. I cried.

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