A sonnet to daffodils

Above them the branch of a tree swayed slightly, as if, only moments before I'd appeared in the clearing, some elves had been sitting there, looking down at them and animating the air with whispers and murmurs of admiration. Now only two big human eyes, mine, opened to them, filled with gladness and a strange unease at something so utterly beautiful -- a little patch of daffodils steeped in sunlight.

I moved closer, peering hard into the bright, melted-butter yellow to make sure no testy bees were buzzing about. Then, so I could be nearer their height, I sat down, trying to feel what it was like to be in the world on the flower scale of things.

Not that different, really, I thought, from the human scale. Only in my thoughts -- knowing I could meditate on the flowers, but not they on me -- did I seem to be a little apart.

And how was I nurturing that gift of thought? I reminded myself of how, in my distractions, I'm always bumping into things, my lucidity saved so far only because my long nose takes all the bumps upon itself. I reminded myself of how I love to read by candlelight, to rise at dawn not merely with bleary eyes but with eyes bewitched to their very cores by the flamingo dances of flame and shadow on the words. What if, I couldn't help wondering, the rough life I led my mind someday cost me vitality?

If that happened, how many wonderful things I'd miss thinking about. Those daffodils before me. The clouds that float in the sky like different-colored animal crackers in soup. The ocean, that salty coming together of so many solitudes. Sunny calendars on the wall, telling me what time my life is. And all the crazy people I love, those spirits who seem to float on air like figures in paintings by Chagall.

On the other hand, I told myself, I would be spared the thought of a great many not so wonderful things. Such as: Crawly earwigs, those narrow little tandem tanks carrying goggled goose pimples. Flies marooned in oceans of marmalade. Frosty eyes, spongy faces of people who can remain indifferent to suffering. Or even, when I'm sad and running wildly nowhere to try to wear my sadness out, my own shadow flapping like the wing of a ragged bird.

Still, all things considered. I decided that the deliverance from the not so wonderful could never make up to me for the loss of the wonderful. And what did it matter if I winced at spongy faces so long as I could have animal crackers in my soupy skies?

Suddenly I felt so grateful I could still teem with thoughts, and so full of resolve to reform my ways, that I leaped up and cried out with Shakespearean pungency, "'Tis better to have thought and winced than never to have thought at all!"

And what about those daffodils that had inspired my weighty reflections: had I not gratitude to spare for them? Gratitude that they were there, to be seen -- that they'd happened, though nobody had promised them immortality or even admirers, to the world?

Yes, if gratitude can be grassy. On every one of their sun-steeped, sleepy heads I sprinkled dabs of grass, making each a green-strawed sombrero.

Afterward I whispered, "Have a happy siesta, amigos," a nd slowly tiptoed away.

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