She cried when I met her. I would have turned my back on her, because I can’t stand crying women. Something about her eyes made me look at her again. There was something strange about them, but what?
Before I knew it, she was telling me her story. She cried because she couldn’t grow flowers. Every day she planted seeds, and she had a garden full of green stems. But no flowers. The stems kept growing. They were deformed, wiggling, wrinkling.
I stared into her eyes, and she kept talking. She’d tried everything she could think of. Fertilizer, no fertilizer. Sun, shade. Talking to them, singing to them. At one point she’d even asked a priest to bless her garden. He came, he looked around, he dropped to his knees and he never spoke again. He’d stayed with her to water the stems, and prayed in the garden each day.
Slowly I realised what struck me about her eyes. Behind the watery drops, her irises looked like the heart of sunflowers. Not just the colour, but the structure as well. They were the most amazing eyes I’d ever seen. Hypnotic.
I let her talk and talk, and held her hands. I’ve never cared for flowers. But I started to care about this strange creature. Each time I came into town, I looked her up. She would cry, I would listen, and I would hold her hands.
I wish I’d asked to see her garden before it was too late. I think it might have made a difference. The priest died before she did, so the last years of her life she tended to it on her own. She gave up.
When I saw the mess of wrinkly stems, I couldn’t believe my eyes. These weren’t wrinkles, these were graceful curves. Curves that looked familiar to anyone who knows how to read. Her flowers never bloomed, they formed words. As I searched the heap of stems, I realised what the priest had seen when he first came to the garden. I found beginning, earth, void and spirit. This was Genesis, chapter one.
Text © Angela van Son 2013 – Image © Shani Guiheen Burgess
Check more of Shani’s wonderful work at her blog. And if you like the story, please share it. A story without readers is an orphan.