Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Purple Flower and the Umbilical Cord
Laughing toddlers with three-day-old orange Kool-Aid moustaches – oblivious to their grungy disposable diapers that should have been changed hours before – dashed in and out of the street. I drove by slowly, trying not to look but unable to ignore the vacant stares of adults who sat slumped on deteriorated steps. The stench of abandonment filled the air.
I parked the car and waited, for what? I didn’t know. She – the resilient purple flower that grows in the crack in the sidewalk – stood beside a gray trashcan flipped on its side, smiled and motioned for me to come. I struggled against the stronghold of gravity and found myself standing beside a corroded El Camino with no tires, searching for the tools to abandon my own sense of abandonment.
The gatekeeper – a dark brown dog – watched from the second story window of a dirty pink house. I hesitated when we locked eyes. He didn’t flinch. Ignoring my initial impulse to meet the challenge, I looked away. I could hear him panting when I walked past the window.
Something smelled – a cross between cloves, pepper and sweat. I couldn’t identify the source or decide if it was good or bad.
I stepped over rusted bicycles, random parts and more trashcans to a small chicken coop tucked against a slanted wooden fence in the corner. The sight of familiar clucking hens – allies – invited tightness in my chest. I bit my thumbnail and watched them peck for bugs in the once paved driveway. They had food, water and adequate space. I exhaled, but not enough. What are we doing here? I screamed silently.
I brushed away the cobwebs of lullabies, apple blossoms and green grasses dotted with bright yellow dandelions. I grasped the delicate tendrils of long forgotten innocence and hope and tucked them back in the box with longing and regret. With the weight of the key pressed against my chest, I gathered faith and carried on.
A woman gives birth. The umbilical cord – never severed – remains intact and grows, invisible to the naked eye.