Moonlore - Publisher's Essay

The Garden of Old Dreams and New Hopes

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.""
~ T. S. Eliot
California Poppy - Photo by Cahterine Munro
Photo by Catherine Munro
Licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

It was the mouse, scurrying through the dry, crackly stalks of grass that led me to find it. I yanked at the mouse's lure, wondering why I hadn't cleared this patch earlier. The grass would grow again, but mice I don't need. Impatiently, I ripped the stems from their roots. Beneath their scraggly locks was a green bundle, still tightly wrapped, not yet ready to unfurl. "A little late, aren't you?"

It didn't answer. I didn't expect it to. Yet I wondered who this straggler was and why it volunteered to grow here. The fragile leaves were familiar but nothing came to mind. A summer bloomer, only beginning to grow in late August? A fall bloom seeking the sun a bit early?

More careful now, I cleared the earth around its berth and provided a daily sip of water for its parched roots. "That's the best I can do, except wish you well. You've chosen a hard time to be born."

The days past and still it persisted, growing a bit bigger, inch by inch, as it stretched to reach its full height. September heat scorched us both. It thrived. I wilted. As I did each summer even as the days shortened. Summer's end. How depressing. My mind roamed back to days of yore: happy hours on the beach, waves lapping at my ankles until I braved their restless crests. Spitting watermelon seeds from the front porch even as Mom complained from inside. Riding my pony at sunset, watching the twilight fade and feeling the cool breath of evening air. Lawn games with my brothers running under the dim light of a single overhead bulb and leaping over yawning shadows.

Days gone now. Even the days of this summer, days I meant to spend well but frittered away. How I dared when I was young. That daring is as dry and wilted as the summer grass now. I miss risking it all, letting a wave tumble me over and over, wondering if I'd ever figure out which way was up. Miss sailing over jumps, higher and higher, until my pony sent the crosspole flying with us stumbling as we landed. Miss writing on the edge, wondering if I was falling off the cliff or blazing new trails others would yearn to follow. Miss my friends and family who've moved away.

What happened to me? Where am I, the "I" of "I am," that young and joyous shout welcoming the challenge and joy of a new day? Am I really living inside this aging body, or am I somewhere in the past, left behind under the weight of life? Once fully focused, my will power drifts. Do I want to write this, or do I want to write that? What is important to me today, not leftover from yesterday or beckoning from tomorrow?

Twice, I sat down to write. Twice I got up to pace. My pacing eventually led me to the garden and the daily watering of the straggler, now graceful with lacy leaves. "Okay, you made it. How'd you choose where, when, how? How do I?"

Silence reigned. The moon rose, a half moon, its belly hanging low, pregnant with expectation. I wished it glimmered silver. Instead, it offered a softly marbled rosy,yellow, orange glow. "You have to be different too? Why? What's wrong with being the same, acting the same, living the same?"

It didn't need to answer. I already knew. Because I am not the same. I no longer rise filled with giddy energy, watching for a glimpse of dawn, yearning for my latest beau or racing through the fields astride my favorite steed. The fields are gone. Houses have grown in their place. I no longer smell sagebrush or see native chaparral from my window. Manicured lawns have replaced the wild sprawl of nature that inspired me so.

Except there in the corner the mouse scurried through. There a small piece of nature risked its life, trusting in today, growing toward tomorrow. At last, its begun to form a flower, its bud a tight, upright, slender triangle pointing straight up from its stem. At last I know this old friend, its delicate orange matching the moon's glow and reminding me of the lipstick I once wore on a youthful face. A poppy. A California poppy. Once they grew everywhere in this valley. Now they are rare, overtaken by time and a changing environment. Like me.

Despite the poverty of water, the tiresome sun of summer, the overgrown grass choking its roots - despite it all - its seed blossomed and grew, overpowering its environment and prospering solo where once poppies flourished by the thousands.

Its challenge is clear: I can wait for something to change, or I can change it myself. I can take a risk, or I can sit still. The choice is mine.

The poppy's in full bloom tonight. Orange flowers decorating every stem. I planted enough sister seeds to fill that longely patch. I'm not pacing. I'm writing. I'm risking. I want to bloom too. And I'm passing the challenge on to you. Will you bloom with me, even if the odds high? Do you have it in you to try one more time?

I hope so. It's exhilarating teetering here on the cusp of chaos and creativity.

By Loretta Kemsley
Women Artists and Writers International
Writer, Editor and Editorial Coach

Loretta Kemsley's Personal Portfolio: Women's Writings