Thursday, December 3, 2020

Nature: A Powerful Conduit to Memory

by Creative Nonfiction First Prize winner Virginia Boudreau

T.S. Eliot once referred to April as "the cruelest month." As a resident of Nova Scotia, I'd concur with that observation. Springtime in this part of the world rarely plays fair. It tends to drag its feet and arrive kicking and screaming at the back door. Unfortunately, 2020 was no exception. For that reason, grass was on my mind. I was longing for the rich color and softness of it in the way I sometimes yearn for stars to brighten a too-dark sky.


. . . I marvel at the serendipity of seeing a bunny over by the stone wall, this day of all days. It's a treat, particularly at a time when the Covid-19 virus holds the world captive, and nothing seems certain anymore.
     I stand on the lawn, not quite green. It's mostly a spread of dull sienna grass, littered with twigs and pine needles, worn thin in places and stitched with smatterings of sheep sorrel and hawkweed. The rabbit sits still as can be but for his twitchy ears, shell pink and gleaming translucent in the wan lights . . .
     I try hard not to hear the sound of your breathing. It makes me think of you, stretching and grabbing for air like apple pickers teetering to reach the ripest fruit on the highest branches. How many times have I held the sweetness of a small perfect world in my hands and taken it for granted?
     As the rabbit fades into the thicket, I picture us sprawled in the long grass. Daisies were everywhere, mingling like leggy girls in fluttering white skirts, dancing like there was no tomorrow. We wove chains for our hair, plucked petals for hours, saying "He loves me, he loves me not" . . . and we wouldn't stop until we ended up with the answer we wanted . . .

My friend Pam and I shared the love of nature. Even after she was frail and struggling for breath, she'd suggest getting outside. Nature is such a powerful conduit to memory.The sight of the rabbit took me back in time to another Easter weekend on a local forest trail The patchy grass on my lawn deposited me further back to the contrast of that idyllic day on the bluff where dandelion seeds in the meadow opened a portal directly into our shared childhood. 

The inspiration for the "Grass" piece made me think about all the ways we are intertwined, how everything connects, and everything belongs. I was startled into considering not only life's astounding beauty, but also its impermanence. Like the translucence of long furred ears or filaments riding the wind, how fragile it all is, and ultimately, how hopeful. I'm going to try to hold onto that.

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Virginia Boudreau is a retired teacher living on the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. A poem about her friend Pam, "Resurrection," appeared in Qwerty Magazine in 2018. Her other poetry and prose have appeared in a wide variety of international publications, including Claw and Blossom, Grain, Palette Poetry, Sunlight Press, The New York Times, and Westerly (Australia). New work will be appearing in Cricket Magazine.

Read Virginia Boudreaj's prize-winning "Grass" on pp. 16-17,
as well as other thoughtful works of Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry,
Short-Short, and Humor in Bacopa Literary Review 2020

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