Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Back There Yonder

"Back there yonder" goes a man in some distress
"He's messing with someone else", mental health can be such a mess
You wonder if he's also ripping up their flower bed
Or if his demons have since summoned different tactics instead

"I feel bad for guys like that... They go on a bender like that"
Your neighbor commiserated, then looked at the ruined patch of earth.
"But this...", he gestured, "sucks". A statement of fact.
He didn't need to elaborate, this gardener was feeling the hurt

Another neighbor had knocked on your door earlier, quick to alert
And you'd walked out to catch the vandal in furious motion
Pausing first, though, to don your face mask from the pile near the stairs
The necessary prelude these days to any social confrontation

You might have saved more plants but for your public health caution
Our covidious predicament has caused all manner of collateral damage.
A root and branch clearing, it appeared that that was his intention
This homeless man dutifully uprooting your flowers was hard to manage

His shorts fell down as he grabbed a cosmos flower with speed
Thankfully, modesty would save this one that you'd grown from seed
He made to cover up his privates; he dropped the stalk.
By then you had approached him, all the while yelling "Stop!"
He turned and backed off, now chastened perhaps.
Recriminations would surely ensue, he was caught in the act.

Still, he remained belligerent and was plainly not happy
That a tall black guy would be the one dressing him down,
However mildly, for his transgressions. Some folk are uppity.
He was in a fugue state, if not drunk or high, and dealing with demons
Of his own. Amidst the raving, the bloodshot eyes were what you focused on.

You must confess that you briefly contemplated wrath
And extravagant violence of some sort,
Stung, even as an amateur gardener,
Revenge, you wanted him to pay the cost.

You guess he expected a beating or something
For he seemed to shrivel up into a shell
So he was quite confused when you, instead, asked him
If he needed any help,
"Anything I could do for you, sir?
Can I be of any assistance?"
Those with your skin tone are used to navigating
Rage and civility with a fine balance

Modernity too, you took out your phone to record the floricultural crime
This your rectangular glass slab of digital android protection
You're not quite sure if he registered the directions that you gave him.
For his destination was surely the torrid zone, a far region of the mind

You know all about mental illness, sadly, more than you could mention
And you wondered who one could call for a psychiatric intervention
You used to spend time with your uncle in his office at Asylum Down
It takes a village, they say, and lots of behavior to get along.

As he walked off, still ranting and raving
You made to salvage your garden of Eden
The tallest and most glorious flowers,
Those wildflowers that had grown to five feet and more
Were done for, shredded and dug up from their bitter roots.
A few others too, you picked up the pieces off the earthly floor

Oh well, you now realized just how much this had been bringing you joy
Your amateur horticultural labor was the source of much delight.
Well, at least you'd taken photos of your pandemic garden
Preserved the digital memories, before this unfortunate abuse
But you held on to the thought and pithy insight:

"People are to be loved and things are to be used."

Sadly, too many people in this world seem to think the reverse
Well, you'll shower your antagonists with concern rather than a curse

It was no surprise, however,
That this lost soul continued on his bender
And someone else, a half hour later,
Was dealing with him "back there yonder"

flower garden

Back There Yonder, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note (spotify version)
me flower gardener

See also Pandemic Garden

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time

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