Tarweeds in Her Hair
by Pavithra Mehta, Sep 12, 2022
In late summer there is little left of lushness here. Spring's pretty florals and prancing greens have given up the ghost. The tall grasses are the hair of a wandering crone, bone dry, wind-matted. Snarled branches of scrub oak mutter incantations. Silver buckeye skeletons filigree the canyon. Even thirsty, delirious, and going to seed, these burnished hills are beautiful. This is what longing can look like. Wild-eyed, bereft, and bursting with the crackling pods of future fruit.
Walking a narrow dirt path, your gaze snags on a small patch of ground. It is misted with a haze of white flowers, the only ones anywhere in sight. Kneel down to meet them. Such tiny, starry faces. Seen close up a geometry of sacredness is revealed, invisible to all who stay standing. Rays of miniature white petals fringe pale green centers flecked with black-tipped anthers. Such elfin integrity, precision, and eloquence. Language, all language, suddenly feels coarse, and approximate in comparison.
Tarweed. I suspect whoever named you was a person of considerable laziness and limited imagination.
The flowers are borne on tawny stems that are seemingly delicate, surprisingly strong. Stems that branch with painterly perfection in all directions. Sticky with exudate that some say reeks of turpentine. I say one could possibly bottle this scent, and sell it expensively. Fragrance notes: citrus, cedar, amber, candor and sunshine. Struggling with the world's indifference? Simply spritz your pulse points, inner wrists, behind each ear-- and be rendered instantly alluring to some, repugnant to the rest. Apathy will no longer be an issue.
Perhaps this is why I love wildflowers so much. They disrupt my disregard in welcome ways. They untether my senses from the familiar, compel my gaze below, beneath, beyond, invite me to breathe in the bewitching, musky, pungent, and sometimes offensive, incense of this world, to touch its stickiness, investigate its purpose, to seek even in revulsion-- revelation. I genuflect frequently now. I walk with more curiosity and care. Their anything but sterile presence thrills me, spills into my settled pools of domesticity, untames me by slow degrees, acquaints me with holy minutiae and the longing of the waiting, wild-eyed crone within. The one who will one day go to seed. Hopefully with earthpraise on her lips, and tarweeds in her hair.
About the Author
Pavithra Mehta is a writer and poet, coordinator of DailyGood, and a contributing editor for works & conversations.
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