epistle in my hand

it began with me on my knees,

although if i go back further,

it really began, as things often do, with the old

old man separating a mat of onion seedlings

poking them into the damp earth with bare hands

telling me with a smile full of gaps

in a parchment lined crinkled face,

mesmerizing lines some curved some straight some forked,

“you want good health, long happy life?

then go plant onion seeds,

they powerful, power full


i believed him.

he had a twinkle in his eye and dirty hands and knees,

not like those tidy old men too afraid to play in the mud on a day after the rain,

who sit on benches with perfect pleats in their crisp trousers

when it’s so hot and dry that the moist smell of rich earth has long since come and gone

leaving a barren day behind,

a barren behind,

no not him;

i believed him as i would my grandfather,

as all the old men who twinkle and tease seeds into the earth

coaxing life out of them remind me, of him,

my grandfather who died in a field of flowers

planted slowly and loved joyfully,

all those flowers!

though in their midst was a lone onion:

the good medicine plant that we keep coming back to

for good happy long life.

that’s how i came to be on my knees

poking onions started from seed

into the damp earth with bare hands,

nails gritted with already drying layers of mud caking over top of one another,

gritting my teeth in frustration

at the never ending plants caught up in a net of stringy roots . . . .

that old man, that trickster,

he never told me onion seedlings would take so long to plant!

make me cry at their inception, cry before they’re fully grown

into an eye stinging, tear jerking

long life, happy health giving medicine plant,

he never told me that their medicine began right from the beginning

all the way to the very sharp, pungent end,

what else didn’t he tell me?

i thought of that old man,

my grandfather,

wondering did he plant seeds with tweezers, sparingly

one by one like those clean men in their garden suits

socked feet in garden boots,

or did he sprinkle them in a band

like i had done by hand

and i thought of his stubbly chin and sparkling grin

picking through the netted tangled mat of onions

and forgot the question, forgot the frustration, forgot to grit my teeth

and remembered instead his long, good health, happy life

smiling while dying surrounded by flowers in his final hours

and the one lone blooming onion

jerking tears spilling a fountain

of seeds all over him,

and i found myself on my knees with empty hands

the onions long planted in curvy bands

watching while i stretched and smiled

at the good medicine giving going around,

so if you have no old man to tell you this

it’s true i tell you:

go plant some onion seeds

they’ll bring you bliss.

One thought on “epistle in my hand

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  1. Oh, yes, that old man, your grandfather, my father, planted, no, not with crisp pleated pants on, or tweezers in hand, but with his large, warm, knuckled hands, into the soil, in a row, and then he would watch, and wait, and a pat here, a nudge there, as he would his flowers, his children,. He was a Man that old man, your grandfather, my father!

    Liked by 1 person

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