They each are unkind, the lily, the orchid, the others. They single her out. The stem. They point and they talk, they laugh. They say her skin is rough, it lacks a delicate grace. They say she is unyielding, absent a litheness. She does not dance in the wind. They say of her that she lacks a shimmering vibrancy, that her growth is awkward, ungainly. She reaches in directions at random and her mane is sparse when it is there at all. Where she is quiet and still they each in their turquoises and mauves glisten with the morning’s dew. On the breeze they twist and sway and now and then careen. She stands in place, stoic and still among their carousing. They give off a fragrance sweet and familiar, like some half remembered dream. If she holds a scent at all it is one vague and earthen. Their torments and sneers are voiced to her or to each other about her, they are whispered or shouted or giggled but they are always there. Even in the moonlit quiet they are there.
They come and go, the lily, the orchid, the others. Cold washes in and they wither and fade. The snows fall and cover the ground. And she is there in the quiet, cicles of ice hanging from limbs that have begun to stretch, to reach. Snowfall blankets the world for some weeks but in time there comes a thaw and then a luxuriant rebirth across the land, and with it the lily, the orchid, the others and their teasing.
She is changed. A widening in places, a lengthening in others. Sprouts of verdant life appear along limbs. She is changed but they seem not to see these changes, their taunts the same words as before, the same venom articulated meting out again and again to lessening effect and shriveling to grey noise while she stretches above them all in the sun, and the season warms, and the rains come, the wind, the weeks, the years.
She is tall. She climbs to something of a hundred feet and she reaches in every direction as far as she wants. Along her arms there spreads an expanse of broadened fronds upturned to fine sun shining down, and beneath her great swath of foliage there is shadow thrown in rough sketch of her figure. That shade lays flat among acres of concrete lined in white at intervals and dotted here and there with a car. And she is there in the quiet.
Craig Rodgers has an extensive collection of literary rejections folded into the shape of cranes and spends most of his time writing in North Texas. His newest release is novella The Ghost of Mile 43.