Jun 11, 2024

Electric Chocolate Lilies

 

my studio on Hornby

my garden on Hornby


He was a philosophy prof at Berkeley during
the Vietnam War 
but left once the protests started. 
When I asked him why, his answer was, 
 “For the same reason you did.” 
He came to wire my studio for a kiln - 
the Berkeley professor turned red seal electrician. 
While he worked, we spoke. 
Breakfast until dinner -
he’d sit in his car at lunch. 
Academic freedom. 
The commodification 
of 
counterculture. 
During these talks, I’d think of my university buddy 
Barry and his mocking tease, 
“You want to touch his brain,” 
I couldn’t say it wasn’t true. 
A precise man of slight stature with long grey hair,
down the middle of his back- 
and always in a ponytail. 
50 years moving between Denman and Hornby. 
Married twice. 
A bit of a loser for a son. 
He’s kind, compassionate and emotionally intelligent. 
An “amateur expert” botanist. 
He spends days on end collecting native plants
from North Island mountains 
and from the side of Hwy 19A. 
His property is filled with his fifty-year collection - 
an herbal tea garden, his prize. 
I gave him bushels of my peppermint. 
It’s invasive. He didn’t grow it. 
He asked my Venus and laughed knowingly when I said 
Scorpio. 
A friend, who also wanted to touch his brain
told me he used to lead naturalist hikes around the island. 
On his last day of wiring, he asked me if I’d ever seen
chocolate lilies. 
I said, No
He recited what I thought was a Wordsworth sonnet. 
When I heard the castle house, I realized he was giving me
directions from heart. 
When my cat died, he brought me a tin of Lemon Balm and Chamomile tea 
from his garden.

The Wind