from the collection of: d. heidel

He walked with flowers on his head.  Beautiful.  It was as if they had taken root amongst the follicles of his own hair and, growing up, reached their delicate tendrils down further into flesh and into tissue and into the softening skull.

With such floral accompaniment, his personality had grown increasingly sweet and passive.  Laughter seemed just behind his lips and warbled here and there like distant birdsong on summer breeze.

He moved as if he was unaware of the seriousness of his situation.  The flowers were an undiscovered genus.  In books and research, throughout my years of botany that have taken me through jungles and private gardens, I have never seen this type of dicotomous plant.  The lushness of the five-petaled flowers was intoxicating.  I wanted to touch it.

But I merely watched.  And the warbling laughter – as sweet as it was to the ear – was also a kind of warning.  Like the laced flowers of hogsbane: ingratiating to the eye and disastrous to the touch.

He moved between his bed and his kitchen.  One minute he was pulling delicately at the stained comforter which seemed too heavy for his long fingers; the next minute, the entire freight of the kitchen sink was emptied in one sweeping eruption onto the floor of the kitchen.

I can no longer see his eyes.  They are buried behind petals and greenery.  The eyes themselves may be feeding the root.  The root seems hungry.  I watch him when he sleeps.  And, as I watch, it seems that the roots – fine as an old man’s hair – tend to move, to flutter in the breezless room.  They are looking for new purchase, new territory to strike out into.  But his head is entirely colonized.  So where can these hungry little things go?

He’s again laid down upon his bed.  His pillow is stained with sweat and some kind of brown excretion.  His sheets have been moist for the past three weeks – you can hear it whenever his naked flesh moves this way or that against the fabric.

He sleeps like a child.  And I want to find his brow beneath the tangle of foliage, to stroke it gently.  He is sleeping deeply tonight, pulled undoubtedly into dreams of sunshine and blue skies – a gift of the vegetative tangle that is replacing the dura matter.

So beautiful.  So calm.  A beautiful man, a beautiful child.  I stroke his head with my hand.  I am his and he is mine.

In the morning, the sun will rise through the hole in the roof, and all will be scented with the fragrance of greenery and peace.