I was only a child;
Maybe 8 years old.
This was the hundredth, sunny, New Orleans afternoon spent adventuring in my great-grandfather’s wild backyard.
4218 Rayne Drive. Gentilly Parrish.
It was full of life, from dry spurweeds,that clung to my jeans and fastened themselves to my shoelaces and socks, to hungry hordes of anole lizards,creeping and crawling through the knotted mass of morning glory vines that were eternally and beautifully woven through the chain link fencing all around the garden.
Before I was born, my grandfather even kept peacocks on his land, and though I never got to witness them myself, like mythical creatures, their presence still lingered there.
I remember wondering how it was going to feel.
My mouth’s best effort to answer my mind; “Supernatural”.
Sunflowers are born into the dirt, knowing to reach for the sky.
And I was the same.
I loved the smell of the grass and the sight of bumblebees darting into and out of the flowery labyrinth.
I think I was looking for daisies.
For my mother.
They were her favorite.
And I was a master hunter.
I wouldn’t go inside for anything. Not even food and water. I drank from a garden hose, and I would suck the sweet nectar from the morning glory flowers. Decent snack as a kid.
All day, I wandered the yard, and kept eating the morning glories.
But eventually, I got dizzy in the midday heat.
I sat down in a bed of weeds. The bees were crazy, but I didn’t really care. We left each other alone.
I should have drank more water as a kid;
Sunflowers know to reach for the sky,
And I watched them burst free from my chest.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
It was the most vulnerable, and the most alive I’d ever felt. No, I felt beautiful. Exotic.
I could taste the soil and the water, mingling in my blood.
I could feel the tender roots binding my veins.
Amid these overwhelming sensations,
The solid earth around me erupted in a massive bloom of snapdragons, stretching desperately for the Sun, before drooping down in exhaust.
And even then, they were taller than me.
I looked up to the circle of sky above me, and I opened my mouth to scream–
And a stream of poppies, marigolds, and violets came flooding out from my tongue, landing in waves of color at my feet. But it didn’t hurt. It was okay.
It was electric. It was pure.
I was never the same.
Ivy was creeping up my shoulders, and covering my face…
And it spoke to me. I don’t know what it was exactly. But I have a good idea.
It told me one word. It’s name. And I’d repeat it here, but it honestly sounds like a joke. It sounds like it couldn’t be real.
The Earth’s name for itself. Or maybe the Earth’s name for the Sun. I’ll just call it the Verdant Soul.
Had I known that I had the choice, I’d have remained there forever. But instead, I left, taking with me the ultimate blessing of the Verdant Soul.
I would never forget.
And so, I walked back up the concrete steps, to my great-grandfather’s wooden backdoor. I stepped in. And shut it behind me.