The bulldozers came at noon, and I wept as though grieving a friend. To anyone else, it would have been ridiculous. This, though, was the summers of my childhood. A field of sunshine, the burst of yellows, the musk enveloping you as you laid your head among the petals and foliage.
For hours, I’d lay among the flowers. I’d close my eyes. I’d take a deep breath. The aroma warmed me deep within, a reflection of the sun overhead warming my skin. Nothing else existed. I didn’t exist. I became them as they became me, a connection that to this day I have yet to find again.
I stayed there until the breeze carried the first blooms of jasmine. The richness of their scent mixing with the last reminders of the sunshine and late afternoons. The night would flicker into being on the wings of fireflies, surrounding me like fallen stars. The nightly chorus of cicadas and crickets would accompany their dance. Reluctantly, I’d peel myself away and return to the land of the living.
I planted my tender heart in the soil, and its roots grew deep. I grew strong among the flowers. Part of me would always remain there.
I remember thinking how lovely it would be to sleep among the flowers and the stars just once. I remember thinking one day, some day, I would never leave. They’d bury me there. My bones and roots would sprout more flowers to hug and blanket another little girl, so she might not feel so little and so insignificant and so very alone in an overwhelmingly infinite world. So, she, too, might find that connection, could feel herself grow. Could nourish that spark time seems to turn to smoldering smoke before it can truly burn.
They call this ‘progress’. Replacing it with metal fences to keep everyone out. Unfeeling stone. Pave over it so people may simply pass without thought. It should make me angry, should boil my blood, yet I have nothing to offer but tears.
I ache to my core to see the quilt of life torn to nothing but dust. Over the years, I became accustomed to ice in my veins, the cracks in my carefully constructed composure, the shattering on my tongue making words dangerous and painful. Despite the unbearable heat, the beads of sweat pooling on the back of my neck, I’m cold. Freezing. Like I may never get warm again.
Call me a sentimental fool. Call me naïve or nostalgic or simple. Why can no one else see what it is we have lost? Why does no one else feel the tearing of roots like cuts across our skin, a severing of something deeper than a wallet or ticking of a clock? Why does no one else feel the memories fade? Why does no one else taste the bitterness on their tongues?
I cannot stand the sight anymore. It is a waking nightmare, a funeral with no requiem, as not even a bird can find its voice to sing. This is not how I want to remember it. As I go to turn away, something catches my eye. Among the endless, lifeless brown, like a river of dried blood, I find a single, small glow. Seemingly so little and so insignificant and so very alone.
Slowly, mesmerized, I bend down, fingers petting the delicate veins. The softness awakens something in my trembling fingers. I close my eyes, breathing in the scent. This, I think, is like blowing out candles on a birthday cake, like wishing on dandelion seeds or distant stars. A single marigold in the midst of destruction.