Behind the Garden Door



Behind the Garden Door
by pomegranate

I am sitting alone in the back yard of my house. It is summer, in the early afternoon, and the scorching sun has laid everyone low. All around me is quiet, not a car stirring anywhere in this little patch of American suburbia.

I sit on a plastic chair in the midst of all the fruit trees my wife and I had planted. There are only a few and still quite young: a sour cherry, albaloo, that hangs its ruby fruit like jewels over my head, a peach, a pear and an apple tree. I look down to where a small fig is gathering root and spreading its leaves alongside the river of stone we had put down. There is a meandering path leading past a bench hidden by the branches of the California oak, and next to that, a sudden exhilarating shot of white from the stand of tall cala lilies, their petals open to the sky.

Everywhere I turned, I saw how her hand and love of gardening had changed the previously weed-ridden slope into an enticing retreat. I saw her on her knees, fingers deep in the brown soil, or standing and watering the trees and walkways in the summer evenings to cool them down before guests arrived, the smell of wet bark and leaves rising up from the hot earth. She poured her heart into the little garden she had created for herself and others. It was a sanctuary, she said, something that others could enjoy and remember her by when she was no longer. Each corner was planned and designed to be conspicuously bereft of any planning and forethought, seemingly thrown together in patchwork style, but beautifully orchestrated when one stepped back.

The sun is beating down now, piercing through the young branches and leaves of the cherry tree and I feel my forearms beginning to burn. Shifting slightly, I bend forward and watch the trail of ants climb up the polished bark, hurrying to complete their task. A ladybug opens its lacquered shell as though to take flight, the exquisite oneness suddenly bifurcated, changes its mind, and lays dormant again. In the stillness, a lone grasshopper rasps a few times then goes silent. I sigh and lean back, closing my eyes and letting the heat engulf me.

What is it about love that causes it to thrive best in the unlikeliest or most difficult of circumstances? Like a vine deprived of water, always scrabbling and clutching at existence, its fruit shot through with the mind numbing intensity of its sweetness and aroma, so it seems with love. It takes root in the poorest of soils, the places it should not or is expressly forbidden to grow, toughening with each storm lashing away at its exposed leaves, opening itself to the murderous rays of the afternoon sun and finally, exhaustedly, drooping down, awaiting the cool respite of the night, only to begin anew.

Is it possible that like the vine, love requires a superhuman effort of will and blinding focus to nothing but its survival in order to produce its magical nectar? That any reduction in the forces trying to destroy it will cause it to become slothful and insipid and uncaring? Or, God forbid, nonexistent? Or does love change its very nature, becoming a different kind of love, adapting to its environment like a chameleon changing colors - springing from the same root but resulting in a different flavored fruit?

I do not know.

The sun washed everything out – the blue from the sky, the voice from the insect and the anger from my heart.


Looking back, I tried to piece together what had brought us together in the first place twenty-five years ago. Everything was hazy, my memories shifting in and out of focus. It was the same with my dreams as well. Ever since my adolescent days, I could rarely remember any of my dreams, grabbing a shred here and there as the images dissolved and floated away in my waking, but I knew that in order to understand my present, I had to somehow reconstruct the past. I looked back on the days that represented my fifty odd years of existence in this life, saw them stretching back in the gloom, one behind the other, in single file, dusky and swept with grey. Every so often, there would be a gleam from within the line, a gentle glow here and there, and then, as I peered far away, a suffusion of gold and amber as though the sun had suddenly broken through the clouds and wiped everything clean in its blinding light. I stared in wonder at that sight, trying to make out the details, anything at all.


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Thank you.

by Feshangi on

I enjoyed your writing very much. Very tender and very beautiful. Thank you