by Larissa Stutterheim
April 18th, 2018
[aesop_content color=”#000000″ background=”#ffffff” component_width=”750px” columns=”1″ position=”none” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” disable_bgshading=”off” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]It started off as straightforward symbiosis
but soon evolved into the passive-aggressive codependency I know far too well.
There are days I pass by and say
Remember when you were new here and I took care of you and
this place was lonely and you & I were all we had?
And, of course, sometimes I say thank you
for being one of the few things I can count on, a rare constant
when everything else is chaos and change.
But there are also days when I am resentful
of the incessant need for water
and the Goldilocks mentality towards sunlight
and the stubborn refusal to grow more quickly,
as if to imply that I have somehow not provided sufficient space
for them to reach their full potential.
Then there’s the manipulation of that bright white mineral crust atop the dried-out dirt,
as if dried-out dirt on its own were not clear enough.
Listen, I get it.
You’re thirsty, but
is such an act of melodrama really necessary??
So I punish them.
I let them be thirsty.
I walk by close enough that they can feel my breath, so their little leaves perk up
in anticipation of a drop or two,
and then I pretend to forget.
I make them wait
until I am good and ready,
or at least until the drooping&drying&browning&dying sets in, and
the guilt begins.
And that’s when I drown them in the compensatory attention typical of a neglectful lover.
I carry them to the bathtub and pour the water in slow and soft,
drop by drop,
so as not to shock the starving soil that has already started to eat itself.
I spritz them with Evian– only the best for my babies– and
I turn them towards the sun
and pet their leaves.
I say sorry as I snip away their bits that are too far gone to save.
I massage their tired soil with a polished silver fork, and
I lean in to whisper gentle messages of pride and praise.
If you could only see what I see, I say, how big and beautiful and strong you’ve become.
I can’t help but hate the way they think being beautiful is enough,
like somehow this entitles them
to just sit there
in a corner
and do nothing more
than make a little oxygen.