Friday, August 8, 2008

Once Upon a Garden

A story is told about the Gardener in the bar on cold, drizzly evenings when all have gathered for the bright fire and warm company, a story of the day the Gardener's daughter was banished from the garden along with her velvet, sparkling companions. It begins thusly:

Bees thrum in the undercarraige of a stroller that balances on the cockled edge of the garden. Someone has taken great care to grow a beautiful array of red, yellow, white and blue, although nothing but the wind moves in the circle of these blossoms. The Gardener's daughter listens to the hum of the bees and agrees that this is the biggest and best garden she's ever seen. Her sandwich and sweet tea chase each other and growl in her stomach, as the blossoms glow and the bees murmur about jewels of honey and petals.

She has been listening to the bees whisper about going into the garden, finding the nectar and the pollen and bringing it out into the world. Her father has told her that this garden is a reflection of the Jewel in the Belly of the Valley, a garden he visited many years ago when he desired to become a Gardener. Here, he tells her, her prince sleeps furled in a blossom, one day to waken and find her. His princess, too, lives in the garden; although he and her mother are happy to perfect their skills for a bliss with each other. This is why there are no consecrated unions here, he tells her.

Four bees zip across the border, each of which the Gardner sees and all of whom the Gardner sprays with a careful mix of water and honey. He scoops the sweet, stiff bees into the center of the garden and smiles. There will be no insectivorous rapine and devouring while the Gardener patrols the blossoms. He shows his daughter the bees and she screams. Snatching the nearest of her companions, she runs away from her father.

She runs away from the sound of his voice, crying her name over and over again. She runs away from the sight of the blooms and the house, away from the flash of a prince dining on bee cutlets in a blood-red tulip. They run for hours until she falls to her knees in a patch of clover. Here they rest, the daughter wiping away her tears and smoothing them over the dirty, spiky velvet coat of the bee. He begins to hum in the evening, dancing around the clover and keeping her safe as she rests through the night.

It is at this point that patron's eyes begin to flick toward the dark windows in the center of the bar, waiting to see if this is the night, the long midsummer twilight that will show them both the night upon the grass and the sun's last rays in the tall clover balls, and, perphaps, the form of the barkeep's wife, a young girl in the ageless fields. Even she sometimes looks out, though I don't know what she sees.

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