Hyacinth

hyacinth

The plant lasted a week.

GIN
{not the drink
but
The Global Issues Network}
wanted our school to be greener,
green
with plants.
They emailed the teachers
and offered a choice:
tulip
hyacinth
muscari.
I looked up the plants on the Internet
(as one does when free plants are offered)
and the hyacinth
seemed easiest
to keep alive.
That’s the sum of my criteria
where plants are concerned.

Hyacinth is also the name
of my partner’s fierce-wonderful 
grandmother.
She’s 94.

The plant arrived while I was out
of my office.
Planted in a white plastic pot
with a little sign
that said “Hyacinth”
along with instructions
for watering.

Our first two days
together
were fine.
Uneventful.
One might even say boring.

Then my colleague
who works in the adjoining office
noticed small bugs
orbiting the plant.
She hunted them down,
pressing their grey-black bodies
into small squares
in the wallpaper.

She said: “It’s an infestation!”

I said: “I’m Canadian
and until you’ve seen
blackflies in August,
you can’t talk about infestation.”

She said: “My day
has been filled
with tiny murders.”

The next day
was one of peace.
Either she’d killed all the bugs
or some,
the wise survivor-bugs,
had moved on
to safer plants
and classrooms.

Then
in a riotous act of purple-beauty
Hyacinth bloomed.

Her corner of the office
was heavy with tropical daydreams.
She whispered the names of warm places
that end with an i.
Bali
Hawaii
Fiji.

The following morning
a colleague couldn’t enter my office.
Allergies stopped him
red-eyed and sneezing
at the door.

Later that day
my friend with the adjoining office
succumbed.

We had to send Hyacinth away
to live with another teacher.

I want to say that we took time
to mark this transition,
that we sent her away
with sad hearts
and words of advice.
We didn’t. We sent an email.

I’m starting to think that schools
are tricky places for plants.

Maybe I should have asked for a tulip.
 

Leave a Reply