I Never Promised You a Rose Garden…

Others often tell me…
Or remind me…
What my place is.

Often, I remind myself.
When I observe, or wade into
The wild rose area,
I planted so long ago.

Their blossoms burst forth,
With a Siren Song Call
To others that aide in their survival.

Blossoms followed by the fruit
Fruit that feeds other winged creatures,
If only passed over here and there,
During the harvest,
Or not harvested at all,
In lean years,

The harvest I wished for,
To make cup of tea in deep winter,
Providing a boost of what is needed,
To shield my frail human body
In the season of cold & vulnerability

The hardy plants that survive drought,
Blazing heat,
Bitter Cold,
High Winds,
And blankets of
Hail or snow.

The plants that like living where I do…
And survive me and my errant ways.

All these miracles take place,
On bright red stalks,
Covered with Thorns.

Stalks that in color and armor,
In the language lost…
Over time,
To my frontal cortex or modern language,
The Ancient Lore of their being.

But my Ancient Brain,
The one I may not always listen to,
Understands their speech,

Danger & Bounty Ahead!

Those beautiful Red stalks,
Covered with tiny swords…
that stab..
With careless abandon,
The casual traveler.

Their victims include
the Naive,
The Careless,
the Impatient,
the Ignorant,
the Brash.

No judgement do they hold,
Only defenses invested in,
That attack the unwary visitor.

When I gaze upon the wild roses…
I planted,
So carefully,
Many years ago…

I think of the years of worry,
Miserly ways in supplemental watering,
As soon as the first season of planting…
Had passed…

I first stand in awe…
Then realize….
I am both the rose,
And often,
The unwary visitor.

The Naive,
The Careless,
The Impatient,
The Ignorant,
The Brash,

I walk through landscapes
I plant myself in,
Weed, Mulch and
Water or Not,
And those I invade…

Whether invited in,
Or not.

I have blossoms that sing to others,
In some seasons, I bear fruit.
I also have fine thorns,
That grow into sharp swords.
An armory built and honed.
To protect myself,
Best as I can.

I sometimes visit the gardens of others,
And know not,
What I am actually doing.

My inner garden,
My outer garden,
Collide, ever more…
Within me.

And become one.

I no longer observe my landscape,
Without seeing myself…

In the tiny wild flowers and rose hips…
The red stalks and thorns.
The seedlings that survive,
Simply because I didn’t mow them down,
Didn’t rip them out,
Because they don’t fit,
With just what I had in mind at that moment.

I sometimes ignore
The weeds that arrive,
In my inner world.

Those blown in by the cosmic winds,
Of today…
Or called forth,
By the memories of,
My past.

The ones who
Take over my garden…
While I wait for understanding.

Friend or Foe?
Weed or Collaborator?

Sometimes I apply mulch
And water my garden.

Sometimes I rip out invaders…
Without waiting to see,
If I mis-judged/mis-labeled
Just who the invaders really are…

And sometimes, I only grow
More roots,
That I may
Spread my invading army out,
To survive,
Via more thorns grown,
In hopes the invaders decide
To leave
Of their own volition,
Instead of sticking around,
To be wiped out by my survival ways.

I see myself in the Wild Rose,
Because I wish to see myself in the landscape.

And yet –
The Wild Roses force me to explore…
The parts of me I hide from myself.

I am forced to see,
the daily life I have built,
For myself.

Sometimes by active work,
And sometimes,
Through My own sheer inattention
Or neglect.

Sometimes I sing, blossom and fruit,
To call forth to partners in the Universe

And sometimes, I put all my energy into
Growing deeper roots,
Hardening my stalks,
And growing or honing,
My ever growing armory…
Of tiny swords.

To build a fortress none dare enter.
To be safe.

And always, always,
I explore my inner & external

Often wandering into the many other worlds
That surround me,
Lost, observing…
Until I can see my way more clearly.

There are many in the human garden,
Who are willing,
To tell me my place…
Or invade my space…
Define what my gifts are…
Deride my thorns…

And then there are others…
Who see only the flowers,
The Fruit,
The roots, the stalks…

But always,
Here and there,
There are
Those who endure my thorns,
Without understanding just why,
Who seek the blossoms that lured them in,
Only to find the swords that wound them.

Those who approach in eagerness,
The bounty,
Then cry out in pain,
When my thorns,
Poke and wound.

All while they believed,
They were merely holding the space,
In which I might grow…

They ruthlessly prune away,
With abrupt clarity,
The dead wood,
I hold onto,
Because it is,
After all,

All I currently think I know.

Even when I can’t see,
I no longer desire…
Or need…
Such things.

I label myself,
Weed or Water myself,
To grow.

I weed/water myself,
Only for the purpose of
Surviving or Invading…
The gardens surrounding me.

Sometimes I grow quickly –
Putting out multiple branches –
To hedge my bets,
Try here, try there,
Rise toward the heavens…

Only to overtax myself,
Deplete my reserves or resources.

And stubbornly,
Carry on trying keep one dead stalk
Standing Strong.

The one that was once borne,
Grew, and was protected,
But now,
Does nothing but
Catch the brunt of heavy spring snow
That tries so hard to prune it naturally.

The part of me that
Stubbornly holds on,
Surviving the weight
Of falling spring snow,
High winds,

The part of me,
That has been,
For a long time,

No blossoms put forth,
No fruit borne,
Not even the ability to grow
Or hone survival swords,

That Dead Stalk,
Bright Red,
With no defenses, other than
Stubborn refusal to fall,
Bend, or break.

When, in the end,
I could have just pruned it out.

Cut off that useless branch.
As quick and easy as I pruned that
Long-dead stalk in my roses.

The ‘deader-than- a-doornail’
Branch from 3 years ago…

The deader than doornail part of me,
From years ago.

I was waiting…
To make sure it was dead…
Just in case….
I risked too much lost,
by pruning and letting go of…
The part of me no longer needed.

Or couldn’t bear…
To let go of the sprig of hope…
That meant survival,
Back then….

To see, protect…
Make room for the new dreams…
Springing up all around me,
With quiet, nagging insistence,

While I unconsciously batted such things away,
And focused instead on the
Invaders that Insisted,
I pay attention through sheer,

The dead stalk in my rose garden,
The dead parts within me…
That accomplish nothing more than prove…
Yet again….

Even dead parts,
Can hold on long enough,
To become a never ending nuisance,
Without ever being seen as one.
In my garden,
In myself,
In the landscape
And the world many wish to hold onto…

All while we all ignore the niggling insistence
“There is new growth here, and perhaps…
Time to prune deadwood away?”

Four days ago,
In the hot sun,
And still air,
I pruned that dead rose stalk.
The useless one –
The one full of brittle and useless thorns.

Without remorse,
Without attachment,
Without guilt.
Without injury.

I know, because I decided it was time.
And moved, with bare hands,
From pruning dead branches from the poplar,
To the tall rose stalk,
That so many seasons ago,
Shot up tall, strong and full of life…

Was most likely killed by a late spring heavy snow dump,
From the overhang soffit,
With no gutter on it.

The system & infrastructure
I demanded be re-created,
During the new roof build,
To water the things planted below it,
Just like the old roof had done for many decades.

The wild roses,
Planted for summer shade,
Winter Wind protections,
Of the Western Walls,
To be Watered,
Instead of me running irrigation lines,
And wasting deep water aquifers,
To keep alive plants who can’t survive,
The natural landscape or my ways…

I grabbed that dead stalk with my bare hands,
Snipped with pruners,
Tossed on the compost heap,
And never received a single hurt, prickle or injury.
Nor had I even a moment’s hesitation.

It was time.

All while I mindlessly scratched and rubbed,
At the ‘nagging irritation on my legs,
From where I brushed against the new seedlings
Coming up, outside the edges,
Of the rose garden ‘confines’,
The seedlings covered with
Fine, hair-like,
New life and…
Swords in the making –

The seedlings I have gazed upon,
For the past two years,
Give a passing thought to,
Here and there…

I can deal with those later –
Too wet and almost blooming time now…
Too dry and not best time of year, later…
To dig up and transplant elsewhere…

Season after season,
I have watched and waited,
When they FORCE me to look

All while,
I do not see,
Or ignore,
The dead things to be removed.

All while some things grow,
And other’s die…

In my garden,
And within me.
While some new things take root,
And old things refuse to die,
On many fronts,
In the world that surrounds me.

This morning I return to my inner world –
Via a picture and a quote,
And think about what I learned this week –

The pruning of me,
The education given to me,
In the gardens I build,
The ones I maintain,
The ones I visit.

I once more,
Assess myself…
My gifts…
My thorns…

My dead stalks,
In need of pruning…
My new seedlings…
That nag at me with unrelenting
That might not be best placed…
Just where they are showing up…

But are not yet,
Grown big enough to give my full attention to,
Or move elsewhere…
Or rip out.

I just mindlessly ‘rub or scratch at them’
Here and there…
When they show up to call gently to me…

All while I blindly stumble around…
Try to ‘manage’…
The landscape around me,
The landscape within me…

And hope,
Against hope,
I’m doing it right…
For just now…

I find myself lost within…
When I gaze about…

Grieving the lost hopes and dreams of long ago…
Observing the new dreams poking their heads up…
Nagging and Irritating me.

I wish to not lose the old that protects the new…
But don’t always realize where the old,
Is in need of pruning.

Dreams that pop up far away from where,
Long ago,
The roots of past dreams,
Used to flourish,
But stalks created long ago,
Are now dead.

Those damn new seedlings….
Currently only protected by small,
Hairy prickles.

The ones that irritate and,
Insistently nag at me,
But I believe I can ignore,
For just awhile longer,
While I focus on the dead,
Try to adjust to the new ones…

The new ones I don’t fully understand yet.
The ones that I wish would just fade away.

All while I race around,
Trying to protect, water, mulch & weed,
Areas with dead stalks,
That no longer Produce Or Protect anything,
But the overall death of me, my garden.

Perhaps I shall let those seedlings grow a tad…
Right where they are….
Until they are big enough,
I simply MUST make a decision.

And I remind myself,
This morning,
NOT making a choice is,
After all,
A choice,
In the end.

Even though,
Logic tells me….

IF I let any of new just
Doing their thing,
With no choices made by me,
Just now…

I will have to re-design my entire external…
And internal….

If I don’t prune out the dead,
Someday, a firestorm
Will descend upon me…

For the new, I can adjust a pathway,
A garden bed not yet built…

Perhaps, for the old,
I can prune it, and let it go.

If I don’t pay attention,
And choose between protecting the old,
And the new….

In a rush of emotional attachment?
Am I capable of any of this???


My gardens will be full of beauty,


They may just become a garden of Chaos…
Filled with thorns.

A Garden none dare enter,
Sans being armed with a machete.
In hopes they can hack their way,
Through the wilderness,
To the Blossoms and Fruits…

Or they maybe will decide,
Not worth the effort.
And decide to mow the entire
Garden down to nothing but a wasteland.

The very gardens…
I first inherited,
Then Built…
Then Protected…

The gardens I also,
Simply let happen….

While I was focused on other things.

Failing to choose….

Maybe building one of
Beauty and Bounty,

Maybe one holding nothing but dead stalks,
Full of harmless thorns –

I might create a garden of Bounty,
That holds reminder thorns…

A garden that calls to the naive & curious traveler,
But repels the harsh and unthinking conquerer.

The Bed of Roses…
Full of thorns….

Within me…
Within my landscape…
Within the collective world,
I help to build…

Whether I consciously choose,
Or not.

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