I hope that you will forgive me this departure into verse, prose, whatever this is…another thread in my life. I don’t think it is too far amiss, because, after all, horticulture is the ‘art’ and science of growing plants. Originally I began this as an idea for a children’s story, yes I did, the life of a particular Dandelion, but, probably due to my more recent reading on topics like photosynthesis, cellular metabolism and a biophysics response to the question of, ‘What is life?’…it has morphed…considerably. When you read this, keep in mind that my intention was to write from the perspective of the Dandelion, a concept pretty incomprehensible to a modern American.
The Taraxacum Cycle
Stories all begin with a single word, a seed, around which they grow, nurtured over time by the things we all share in common, family, history and experience. They contain ‘truth’, but are not themselves true, because they must be told in such a way that they lure the reader in and are ‘believable’. They are organic and grow within us and to the extent that they reflect our own ‘story’, that they meet our expectations, we stay with them and them with us, because there is no story if it is forgotten. So, the author must manipulate what he knows, he must ‘lie’, to bring you in and keep you, weave truth and lie into a whole. We take the stories you already know and introduce our own characters, set them in exotic though familiar settings, and, if a writer is good, introduce enough, but not too much, that is ‘new’, different from your cultural experience, your expectation, that you are affected by its unfolding, that you become a part of the story and look at your world in a different way, even if only a little bit. The word here is Taraxacum.
Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion. A Linnean creation. Binomial nomenclature. Genus/species. A reductionist idea and a label that suggests mastery over, me…but I existed long before the name and will remain after it is gone. What had been a seed, loosed on the breeze, a seminal idea, a simple story, became a living organism, much like you, then forgotten and lost across the broken, still breaking, landscape.
There is a line between knowing and communication. It is direct and shared, within the cell, the tissue and the organism. Catalysts released, metabolites created, carbohydrates delivered, respiration enabled and increased, hunger and demand responding in kind, limited by the world, genetically orchestrated, communally shared, living and dying, taking and giving…and, ultimately, beautiful and useful, thrifty and rich, endlessly cycling, evolving, complex, growing and adapting, dying and waiting, forever linked and dependent, ready and immediate…both within and without. Alive, with the energy of becoming. I am…such a simple phrase.
Life, endlessly strung along a line, woven into a whole. And this line breaks, if only momentarily, when life becomes mobile, when it grows legs and wings, flagella and cilia…pappus and stalk, and must now find its way back into the fabric on its own. Freedom of movement comes only at a cost, the breaking of bonds, of connection, an interruption of knowing, separate from being, but this separation is more illusion than reality, though it is easily sold and anxiously consumed, but first….
Everything happened quickly, in a string of moments, purposeful, intended and spontaneous, all of the preparation, the growth, the learning, before a life, my life, became possible, the potential and ‘idea’ of my own seed. Dormant and waiting. And I did wait, but it was a kind of ‘timeless’ waiting that I only became aware of later when I too experienced the full cycle, when I bloomed and saw the ‘sacrifice’ of my own seed, leaving, and later still experienced the germination of this next generation. Life is continuous and happens in stages, an endless string of moments, but when you’re in the midst of it… you don’t always see this. Communication is the same way, it never stops. It is rather, that the nature of language changes, that we must discover the tools of communication around us and their is a lag, in our understanding, before we become conscious of it again, before we remember, and realize we were never alone….
Like any story mine changes over time, even the beginning, as what seemed so simple originally, takes on complexity, especially when we try to tell it. There is no reason to tell what we all share other than to underscore our commonality…and sometimes, that is everything. Stories are for ‘others’ told to increase their understanding. Ultimately they are all manipulative, because they contain an intent, sometimes self-serving, others edifying, while still others are mostly entertaining, distractions. So for you I’ve made this story one that you will have to sort out for yourself. We are all continuations of a much older longer story.
Love is an engagement with, a commitment to, life and its acknowledgement through our relationships with others, broad and deep. My father and mother were my direct genetic donors and part of my community, as was the honeybee that carried the pollen to my ‘mother’s’ flower and the breeze that held it aloft, the sun that warmed and opened both of their flowers, the water and soil nutrients incorporated in their cells and all of the endless cycles of them that preceded their own lives. The lives before me, including, those generations, those branches, that skipped the whole bee thing, cloning themselves, perfect and complete, until more was needed and available, in that ancient way that they often meet. Opportunity. The reason and the purpose. My life, as special and insignificant as it is, was prepared for in my ‘mothers’ ovary, the instant the gametes joined my ovum, having made the trip down a pollen tube through the stigma, grown expressly, for me, itself a ‘product’ of intention, encoding all of the hope and physical possibilities that would be me into my DNA, held within my germ plasm and the carbohydrate rich endosperm that would sustain me in my initial growth, all of it, shaped by place, endless loops of feedback, opportunity, need and desire. Intention…driven by intention.
That is where my story begins, at that moment, with my contact with the soil, its moisture and warmth softening my seed coat, awakening me, the life within the seed, water and bio-electrics
Story draws us together creating family, history and community out of the dark, ignorance and distance…. They make life bearable and understandable. Without story or with one narrowly conceived to serve a selfish need…it all falls apart and they become ‘competing’ stories, rather than a nesting of smaller tales into a ‘meta’ story. Story is the understanding of our commonality. It is the ‘glue’ that binds us. Telling stories is the creative unfolding of us all or the wedge that drives us apart. Each contains its own truth. All are prophetic, seeds that grow within the shared consciousness of the living, growing their own future as we follow them to their end. Collectively they shape the world and, as ‘readers’ we get to choose from the many which we will add to our own.
This world is dying.
It always has been…
In its scramble of life
Choose your moment well!
The Impossibility of Being
Water is life
or so it has been said…
There is no math of any science,
No religion, that alone can tell its story…
For they are all part of it
A piece of the puzzle
Created by a ‘mind’ that is still itself
Amongst planets and electrons.
One cannot speak of life without a voice
And the luxury of time, the awareness
That it brings, the opportunities of place
Everyone unique, magically repeated in a
Sameness…in a stream of consciousness,
Unfolding its own (tactile)oral tradition
The shared gift of being
Life exists between carbon molecules
And water, the curiosity of an ion,
Its need for an answer
Proposed by its own question
Asked and answered
Within our own solution
By every seed, every moment,
Electric and self-aware, fulfilling,
Whole and satisfying…and
Endlessly asked again and again.
On Language and Communication
(The difficulties of Interspecies Communication)
We stumble over language
Each with our own, born
Dumb and deaf to others
Despite our connection
Our innate tongues our
Struggle with ‘knowing’
Our confusion wrought
By distance and difference, our realization
That our independence is our undoing
The key and way to our future
The power of determination
And the fear of getting it wrong.
You are naked and stand
In willful solitude, blind to
Our ‘first’ language and origin
Shared by all. Confounded by doubt
You settle for the comfort and assurance of lies.
Abstractions. Maps of the ‘terrain’.
This is the knowledge of the world
Our shared trust. A trust left behind.
There are no differences, all are unique.
Conflict and quandary, necessary precursors
To a life well lived. Love is nothing more…
Dancing to its own beat,
Primal, steady, inclusive, shared and evolving,
Endless variations on a theme
Common to all.
Each trace our own orbits. Endlessly
Communicating, exchanging, sharing, giving, supporting, taking,…dying
Revolving around the sun, cycling everything
Each orbit an exercise in getting it
Right! Life cannot begin
Because it never ends. Each individual
Its own moment, a ‘step’, an awakening
On a path, expanding over time
Universal in the aggregate…
Only awareness grows, radial, three
Dimensional, four, linear only in its telling
Stories, each necessarily incomplete,
Bits of knowing. True language is unspoken
Unwritten, unseen, continuous, instantaneous…
Infinite and complete. Life is….
The well worn paths of light and water
The potential of bio-electrics, movement and intent
Animated, animating…organizing, intelligent, Carbon
The common element, becoming…more
Water and the Fluidics of Life
Water and the sea within us,
Between us, dissolving distance
Bounded and free, percolating
Down, connecting, aggregate to root
Enabling, orchestrating, each
With our own primordial ooze, diffusing, dissolving
Differences and nutrient, joining, enabling,
Passing through…membranes, osmotic, magical.
We are one….We are all. Water the key
And the way, forward, always forward
In every direction, we take on our roles
Expansive and searching, never greedy,
Confident and determined, finding and making
Yielding it, never ending.
Our place, remembering, passing it on,
Evolving, playing, always playing, joyful,
Expectant and complete, always striving,
Satisfied and whole, convivial, commensal,
Communal, strong and fit, consumptive, productive
Necessary. Abundant and Frugal
Self-regulating and limited, responsive and adaptive
In our individual way, necessary and complete, never
Finished, unbounded…always connected.
Streams of consciousness
Intelligence and energy, purposeful
Flowing within and without, becoming,
Evolving. Diversifying…dancing in-between
Completing the thought, each moment
Each action within each action, the
Furnace of mitochondria, regulation
Of Enzyme and catalyst, the way finding
Of roots, porosity and permeability,
Shedding of roots and the judicious
Determination of leaf, of form…expression,
Translation of DNA, Water is Life
In the presence of all things necessary
Providing and provided for.
Our liquid crystalline structure
Water, in unbroken surfaces and strings
Joined to complex proteins
Instantaneous communication, the
Non-dissapative energy expenditures of life,
The miracle manifest within and without, everywhere.
Complete and entire.
I ‘began’ as a seed, only because
Each story has a beginning, before its knowing
And becoming, my home, my all. I am
Nothing alone, for even possibility
Would elude me! All is necessary
Even that which will consume me
Because we are whole and entire
I can no more live without death and rot,
Which cycles all that once was
Back into what will be…
Than I can sunlight.
We are endless and dead.
Fecund and becoming.
There is no choice.
How does one express the growth
Of one’s own root, down through the living soil?
Anchoring oneself into the matrix of that to which it is committed?\
To an organism that defines itself via the ‘fiction’
Of its independence, however false and
Misguided their belief might be?
Germination is a bio-chemical awakening
A stirring within, a quickening and a surge
Of electrons, an ancient pattern,
Become magic. An opportunity of propinquity,
DNA and water. Hydration and solution, permitting
Providing the means for communication,
For the transmission of energy and intent
Each cell awakening positing the next
A negotiation between, a melding of purposes.
Soil and organics every bit as interested in my
Becoming, invested in ‘our’ future’. Genetic
Disposition, structural resistance, organic acids
Mineral availability, water, essential water, and
Oxygen, for metabolism, all directing growth
Amplified and charged by the electricity within everything.
Freed in solution. Alive! Growing! Becoming!
Cell upon cell finding its way
Following my biometrics.
Growing. Replenishing. Dying
Cell by cell in continuous flow
Exploring the surrounding soil. Certain,
Finding a way through the polyglot of soil life.
But the seed…my seed, is central
Determining. Once begun, charged and released,
Patterns and tendencies, becoming, again and again
Following gravity down, penetrating quickly
Through pore space, making my way,
While others senesce or await changed, warmer conditions,
Passed aggregates, against density, increasing density
Down, ad-libbing, searching out, feeling
My way toward abundance and availability
Gambling, reaching out from the lessons of my seed
Building on my core, my root, my radical and reaching out
Reaching out, into the knowing…soil
Reading its life, divining what is freely given
Negotiating, bartering what is to be given back!
And promises made. Partnering! Associating!
Staying true to contract. Taking only
What I need…. Secondary, finer roots,
Mycelium, bound and conjoined, coherent and
Shared, common purpose, growing as one…
With, both/and…all, always all,
Searching and growing establishing
Quickly, living as one. Purposeful, without pause
Until, finished and spent, sloughed off and abandoned.
A ritual repeated…over and over
Beginning again, elsewhere, the nutrient pull of ions, in solution
Endless creation. Always searching…and finding until I/we don’t…
Moving, never giving up, learning this space
What it offers, what I/we owe…
Discovering, making, my/our place…being!
Darkness and light!
The transition space between
The interface…and dynamism at the nexus
Of solid, liquid and gas
Earth, water and air…the fire of life.
Between ‘being’ and becoming,
Continuous, evolving, manifesting
The animating energy of radiation and warmth
Soil and light, seed, substance and energy
Intelligent mass, the magic of water
And the life it bequeaths. The demands of my
Growth, first the self sacrifice of endosperm
Carbohydrates, life anticipated in the knowing seed,
The few precious proteins and fats
Before taking what’s been given, freely
The light of the sun, water from the earth
Perfect and available to the ‘machinery’
Of my metabolism, first seed leaves then true,
Palisades and cuticle, vein and chloroplasts
My structural ‘answer’ to the question
Set before me, what to do, what to be,
This! Leaf upon leaf spread like a sail
A basal rosette to catch the sun
Impatient and persistent, efficient
Taking advantage, making a beginning
Participating in the ‘conversation’, communal,
Continuous, finding the space, necessary distance
Niches and needs, this seed, this individual
Arrived and alive. Nurtured, selected…
Included…mycorrhizal links, arbuscular,
Essential, more than chance
Providing, shared purpose, vision…alive!
What is lost when its water is removed?
That once taken can not be given back?
The potential for Joy! A future!
I am the compulsion, strength and desire
That drives my root, each hair,
Through the soil, that gives a ‘home’
To the mycorrhizae that join to me…
The decision, seeking out
Consuming each mineral nutrient
I need, but no others, saving it,
Returning it to the larger
Cycle of life, from which it never
Left, sacrificing, myself, this body
One cell at a time,
Continuously, for the life of others, the same
Root hairs and cells, sloughed off
Continuously, enabling the life ‘we’ share at this ‘edge’,
We all share, that which thrives in the moment
In its simple expression.
I am not the root! The leaf or the seed!
But the ‘electric’ spark that charges us all
Everything else is just the stage,
The body of the actor, dancing to the song
For which the orchestra plays, the audience
Watching, reinventing each line
As the play unfolds, moving constantly
Toward a ‘conclusion’ that itself remains
Just out of reach, full of promise
Beauty and hope! And, of more
Of the same! This is who I am!
An unnecessary division of a whole
Meaningless classification in the human story.
The only thing! Manifested,
This particular moment in time
A single word in a universe
Upon which everything else depends!
For I am alive! Embedded
In a matrix of…’nature’,
The zero point field.
The quantum vacuum. A ‘field’
Of background energy
Powering it all, lifting it,
Into the realm of possibility. Where one ion,
Brings about a cascade,
An instantaneous phase shift, states of being,
In a coherent string of changes. Life!
One after another…upon another.
Becoming. Creating. Evolving. Intended.
The learning universe. The manifestation of possibility,
Of idea, from energy…informed energy,
Structured and fluid. The birthplace of us all.
I know little of particle or solid state physics, quantum dynamics and electro-dynamic theory, but I feel the life within me, within all things, our coherence, the quantum entanglement, that connects us, between ‘myself’ and other…oneness. Resonance. My words to you carry a falseness, an incompleteness, that do not express our connection in total, of being. They lack the dimensionality of existence, of purpose. We are all limited beings, on our own. My cells are my own…and those of a single greater being, different, but still also critically undifferentiated. While yours are limited, ‘self’-aware and, at the same time, singularly perceptive and individual, beings of perspective and rational thought, too often of either/or rather than both/and…creatures of choice rather than belonging, subject to confusion…while we are simpler, engaged and committed, incapable of the lie, guile or deception. While we are accepting and ready, you are suspicious and calculating, possessed of potential and possibility, an experiment in evolution, a more ‘active’ partner in the plan, capable of choice…and mistakes, a self-important potential game changer….or ender, alive, yet largely unaware.
Weediness and the End of the World
My needs are common and easily met
In this world of endless opportunity,
Of ‘perfect’ nature,
Its precise parameters, within which I thrive.
Healing precursor, pioneer, occupier,
First adopter, way finder, preparing, initiating…
Vigorous and thrifty, ruderal, disturbed,
Abundant, ubiquitous, I/we follow
In the wake of your continuous disturbance,
Your landscapes that celebrate instability,
Avoiding the diversity of life and balance,
Broken communities, bare soil and edges,
Graphic swaths, painted on the earth, static, fixed.
Inherently unstable, contrived artifices,
Broad sweeps of self-delusion
The pejorative ‘sting’ of your label,
‘Weed’, made manifest. Only a word
That tramples us with its feet, celebrates
Its own ignorance, an artifact of
Disassociation, the loss of belonging,
You ravage us…in your forgetting.
My cool season habits giving me a ‘root up’
In the temperate sun, limited only by my own stature
And the diversity, vitality of a healthy community
That you scrupulously defy. A dead aesthetic
Of selfish utility. Those that can
Find our way, following your broken lead
As you ‘remake’ the world.
Story is a necessary lie, linear and neat, a confabulation of memory and desire. if the author is to be successful, they must speak a common language to an audience that understands and expects it. A language is a thing shared, an understanding, a set of rules by which we choose to ‘know’ the world, placing those within the realm and casting the rest into the forbidden and the unknowable. A ‘spoken’ language is a necessary reduction and simplification of the world into words, a world which defies description. Ineffable. Life is simultaneous and entire, complete, without beginning or end, while story follows the course of one root through soil, drama and plot pulling it from mundane description or simple record of events; the extension of one terminal bud toward the sun; one seed through the air on a journey to its so called beginning and makes sense this way to your animal brain, a brain seemingly unable to grasp, truly, the life of another, a life continuously in search of connection, suffering from its own individuality, its own separateness, in reality, itself an illusion. One story is a single page of a meta-story, in a book that begins anywhere one begins its telling, following an agreed, shared format, a testament to the limits of human understanding. Stories give humans an opportunity and structure to add layers to themselves, comprehensibly, in a manner that they can recall and hold separate, always separate, like blocks to build with, changing, reorganizing, this one world into theirs, rather than simply living as so called lesser life does. Plants don’t do this! We don’t write or speak with such parsimony, nor do the ‘lesser’ animals! Each know their dependence on the rest…all of the rest, their role in the ‘celebration’ all around them, the miracle of each and every cell in and around them…but not humans. Language…true language would be a thing of beauty! A full expression of life. Write every word in every language in every conceivable combination….that would be closer. Make the words sing, rhythmical, subtle and powerful, terrible in their beauty, in meaning and sound…have them dance in the breeze, then you would be getting closer. When you open your mouth to speak, the world tumbles out, but these words I reach out to you with are riddled with guile and so must be layered, nuanced, word paintings meant to evoke the breadth of my life. Otherwise, I would be barely a side note in your human story, while in ‘reality’, I am the entire universe! Complete, essential and evolving, nothing without all of the wholes, the lives, entire and separate that altogether comprise my own story.
Weeds, Disturbance and Creating Place
My knowing of…
My imprint upon
This place…is short, but broad.
No old ones to learn from, here
Only the ancient knowledge
Within my seed, tales of birth
Origination, I know from being,
That link all of the living
And the hope within the soil,
It’s own ancient story,
I pass on to my seed
Stories and remembered relationships, gifts of strength
And self, and the promise
Passed on to me of what came before…
Here! The uncounted stories of this place
‘Told’ tactilely, part of me
On this life thin spot. This now!!!
Linked to all others
Along our opportunistic way….
And the unfamiliar lives cast and
Gathered on this soil our fates entwined
In root and hyphae. Disparate, transitory…
Joining, linking, ‘communing’, everyone,
‘New’ here, those that once belonged…absent
Fading echoes in a soil itself
That does not belong to the original ‘here’.
Lives and links broken and lost, urban
Now! common bonds made in contact
Easily divisible into two groups defined by
Vigor and intent, arrival and opportunity
The common and the ‘lost’,
Chosen and placed
Seed born and selected
Neither truly belonging
One growing a home, making sense
Of opportunity, having followed a trail,
Left a trail, behind of story. The other
Of ‘unnatural birth’, broken singular lines
Of descent. Clones, their genetics repeated,
Stories reduced, to one, diversity lost,
Chlorophyll lines broken
Ill equipped. Iterations so close
They have little to say
The same response to every landscape
Identical stories of loss…
Chosen, diminished and reduced, each,
Each of them alone and repeated
Isolated. Identical and separated
Confusing their own ‘speech’.
We bed with them finding comfort in
Numbers, despite their unsettledness
Our differences, creating place
And community, young, unfamiliar niches
Yet promising…limited just the same.
We, the opportunists, the strong
The vital, express, move towards,
Search out, alter and recreate
Our surroundings, the soil part and of us,
Shared so closely, as tissue
The voice of being, knowing, dissolving
Barriers, one body one life
Amidst many, while the others…
The stunned, the shocked, the broken, the limited
The dependent, the ‘planted’, the cultured…
Wait, some joyfully naive, others
In a state of ‘doomed’ privilege,
Assigned, ill fitting, place holders.
We make our own way, find our own place,
The stone and life of our origination
Lost long ago to us, we search out
In this new soil, compromised…
We will survive!
The others here, their loss too great
Their need, insurmountable, the elegant dance
That was once there lives,
Their necessary partners,
Lost as well, their beauty surrendered
Complex and fragile
There is no place for them
In this reduced place
If not made and sustained,
But our ruderal ways
Assure us a home…even in the most compromised
Of places, such as this two plus two reduction
Of human intent…your mark is everywhere
In its unmaking, its purpose
Still, we persist, together
With. The way it’s always been.
The story, the only story, the one
Story, is in the soil…in us
There is no line, between
No either/or, only both/and, continuous
Evolving, growing toward, one, healing, inclusive
Only contact, intimate contact in the
Dark wet expanse, between and of
Soil, the constant penetration and retreat,
Giving and taking of one heaving
Organism, seething with energy,
Light, heat, coherent, knowing and intent
Vibrant, resonating, dynamic, becoming
Always becoming and wordless
Living its own language, direct.
Remembering, in tissue and aggregate
First, there was the word
And then the impossible became common
Rudimentary and knowing, ‘easy’,
Communication like ‘breathing’, without secrets,
Born of guile or selfish intent. Everything
Freely given, shared and so….multiplied.
Abundant! Breathing,’feeding’, creating…
What is life? Itself dancing, manifest, before and
Through us, these selves merely vehicles
The art, its expression and beauty of
Its reason and purpose
My roots express this, seek only
The joy and fulfillment of ‘its’ expression
A breath and a step in the dance
My own unique contribution to a greater making
Patient and confident in the profit earned
The Thin Line
It is this thin skin of life that both divides and creates
A biological mathematics, an equation sign
Keeping everything in balance,
Above and below
Inside and out,
So different, energized,
Filling the world with image,
Distracting from our purpose
Intent, we the ‘sightless’,
Blind in this way, responsive,
To other stimuli, other needs,
Energy transformed, at the nexus,
To chemical and excited electrons or ‘lost’
Heating soil, conducting, dispersing, down,
Or radiant, charging atmosphere and ocean,
Themselves alive with energy and movement,
Excited and amenable, potent
The swirling mix of air, ions and heat, water,
Always water, in the creation of weather,
Swirling overhead, chaotic and ambient,
The positive matrix and ‘media’ of air
The breath of life, shared, mine and yours,
All of ours, resuscitative, essential. Flora
And fauna, all forming a ‘cambial’ sheath, wrapping earth
Expanding, thickening, burgeoning and abundant,
Life, vibrant, coherent, growing and evolving
Not…so different, never the same, divided,
Transformed above and below, top and bottom
Root and stem, structure responding to chemistry,
Physics, gravity and the endless possibilities of life! in response to,
Survival and joy! Expansive and expressive
The unfolding of leaf and the reach of stem….An explosion
Of foliage, this time, my time, burst in rosette form, economic, my/our…
Open to sky! and photon,
The excitation of chloroplasts,
Spread wide, gathering, converting, storing energy in carbohydrate,
Transmogrified, by the fantastic
Into tissue, active and alive.
Simply to be!
Endlessly. Creatively…no matter what
However terrible, we grow, heal and live, vital, inviolate, inclusive
Transformative. We celebrate and release our seed, our hope,
Reimagined on an Earth perpetually returning, cycling between
Dark and Light, each of us just a moment,
A wealth of moments, woven together into now
This life, each life, just a breath, less than that
The hope and promise it begets. The one. The all.
I am Taraxacum officinale.
I am nothing.
Advice: On Becoming
Bury yourself in soil.
Carefully cut into its surface,
Peeling back its layers,
Trace out your limbs and
Lay yourself down, exposed
Vulnerable and open, naked,
Connected, patient and still.
Above all, be still, listen and feel.
Give yourself, surrender
Wake with the sun on your face!
For a time you might need, supplementary
Nourishment, but wean yourself off it,
From water too. ‘Here’ will become
Familiar. Sufficient. Adjust to it. Accept it.
Everything is here, provided for.
‘Want’ is a fiction of fear and separation
In time your ‘self’ will reach out
And join, blur into we…then
You will know….Your epithelial cells
Do not limit you. They are your hungry skin
Longing for connection, an interface
With joy and possibility
A reprieve from loneliness, from
Living, only on the surface.