I grew up on a farm. It wasn’t a formal farm. It was a family farm. Even when I was small it had fallen frequently to disrepair. The walls of the barn were even then being pushed out by years of shit piled on more years of shit, unshovled and unspread. The pasture field sprouted amazing treasures to a creative mind.
Dead and neglected telephone poles laid in a pile. In the summer sun the creosote bubbled. I would sit and take in the warm black creosote smell breaking the wonderful bubbles. They didn’t break like normal soap bubbles,nor like the tar bubbles in the tar puddles bleeding out of the tar and chipped road down at the corner. Creosote bubbles leave the bubble edges behind.
Dead neglected and cast off guts of water heaters sprouted like massive rusty metal watermelons. Weeds and grass started growing up around. When the summer sun kissed the rust, they warmed. The tanks were warm enough. To melt crayon pieces. Wax drips in long soft teardrops. The rainbows made the rust beautiful.
I broke my crayons. Evil stupid five year old delinquent. 12 year old siblings never ever broke theirs.
But the magic place, the place to hide, was the hilly rose bush and sweet pea covered rock infested no-mans-land. No one wanted to e Er mow no-mans-land ( thus the name) but it was very much a place I enjoyed sitting to read. The, or in the midst of the multiflora roses (horse high, Oxford strong, hog tight) out at the junk pile burn pile in the middle of the far pasture (later corn field).
The roses of my childhood. Raggedy, wild and lanky. Imperfect, but heady sweet. The roses that wound themselves into my spirit, digging their thorns in deep. They remain there still.
But when you grow up and you realize that you have responsibilities ( you have to provide for… Dreams, stupid… No one will ever… People like you can’t never stupid) you learnt hat roses are supposed to look like roses, the ones in the store, long set,s, no thorns, very heady fake smelling.
So I tried. I tried to learn how to be the right kind of rose. I learned how to grow the fit kind of roses. I could stick a broom straw in the ground and have it grow green. Growing real roses was easier than becoming a real rose, a right rose. But I tried. And within the tight and closed definition, I succeeded. I looked the part but I stayed pale and stunted.
But I have a grafted rose bush in my yard. I’ve tried growing it, tried training it to climb the trellis. It resisted. It kept trying to die. Until it finally broke. The graft let lose and the wild underlying rose in its soul broke free. And it flouted convention to grow strong and sweet and thrive.
This spring I’ve finally listened to my rose bush.
I’ve found my spirit. I’ve finally started to break my graft.