When you text to ask me
WHAT IS A RHIZOME?
I let you wait for an answer,
continue my domestic tasks at hand
as if devotion could lend them meaning.
I lack the energy for you, some days,
the energy to avoid the obvious,
to think of when we drank Absolut Pear vodka
and sang Fiona Apple down dirty Grace Street
I was unafraid of the city, the night.
Of how today, I hate those girls,
how I fear for them.
My suburban garden withers under August,
survivors only lemon balm, hyssop, catnip.
Oblivious gladiators in the summer heat,
so many faces of mint.
Lamiaceae, a symbol of virtue.
During our bad bright years, I knew myself
where now I am only a creature of habit
in a three bedroom house.
I cannot be accountable to that season.
How badly I still want those nights of excess,
stolen peonies from midnight walks,
how we laughed at boys then and
all our cigarettes,our chorus of
Paper Bag down hell block.
Is a hybrid more than the sum of its parts?
I bounce between these reflections,
a flying insect, my two halves a stranger
to all but you. I think of a rhizome again.
Of ginger, Venus flytrap, lotus flower:
Allies in the skill of ambush.
Their layers, their sting,
their anchored spread throughout the soil,
hearts clasped in a secret handshake.
How I want to answer you, to say
A rhizome is a connection.
A beating artery between bodies. The soles of my feet
connected to yours by underground music.
That this is how strong your melody is,
that it comes even out here,
all the way to me.
Kelly Heard is a gardener and writer from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and one-year-old daughter. Currently at work on her first novel, she has previously published work in Nitrogen House and Cauldron Anthology. She can be found on Twitter at @heardkj1.