Thursday, March 11, 2021

SOL21 Slice 11: The butterfly bush


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

It was as if the butterfly bush was begging me to prune it, 
almost screeching its needs, 
with its wild branches blowing this way and that, 
smacking up against the side of the porch, 
dropping worn, old, brown plant crumbs all over the porch furniture, 
entangling with the ornamental grass (you're next on the chopping block, buddy!), and 
basically picking a fight with the shrub on its other side. 
(Hmm, what's the name of that shrub? I don't know . . . .) 

I was also screeching inside, 
silently simmering, 
overcome with frustration from several small glitches in my day 
that seemed to be changing my mood,
moving me into anxious and hurt - 
a frustrating email (did you have to use that tone?), 
an annoying zoom session (why wasn't I told this a month ago?), and 
a text that made it loud and clear, my preceding texts were never read
just glossed over,
basically ignored. 

I should have just texted the butterfly bush. 

I put on my gardening gloves.
I got out the hedge clippers and the small pruning shears. 
I dragged a large empty yard recycling barrel into position. 

I started chopping, thinning, cutting, breaking, splitting, trimming, clipping, shaping, pruning, imagining.

I found each long leggy limb,
growing in at least three additional directions,
requiring my entire focus, and soon
filling, swelling, overflowing the barrel,
requiring me to slow down and
push, squeeze, weave the trimmed branches into gaps,
tighter, tighter, tighter
making each piece fit
making space in the crush of twigs
making room where there once was none
all the while struggling against the wind,
this blustery day, 
when suddenly,
I arrived in
another time and space
where I was smiling.

Who knew trimming a butterfly bush would be a catalyst for time travel?

"any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have."
- Pema Chodron


  1. I’m so glad trimming the butterfly Bush was cathartic. Sounds as though you went after it w/ a vengeance. I giggled at “you’re next on the chopping block, buddy,” and “I should have just texted the butterfly bush.” Some days feel that way, don’t they?

    1. It's really surprising to me how I am all of a sudden so frustrated and annoyed! The butterfly bush was just what I needed.

  2. This is gorgeous. I love the comparisons and the details you used. I could feel your emotions releasing as you pruned. I wonder if writing about it helped as well. Bad days can't get you down when they produce a beautiful poem.

  3. Thank you, Claire! I love that you could feel my emotions releasing ... I had hoped for that very effect.

  4. I was hoping your trimming would help you get out your frustrations, but as you so beautifully write, it actually transformed you to a new attitude and even a new time and place. Peace in the pruning! Well written and lived.

    1. Oh, Denise, I love that - "peace in the pruning"! Fabulous!