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Trip to the Greenhouse

Althea Downing-Sherer

As soon as I enter the greenhouse bathroom I am met with a row of lockers and a fluorescent lit shower. I can imagine the scientist who must use these facilities: a young man with no delusional inclination toward art, only devout commitment to these plants. To this vegetation tangible enough that he can study the nomenclature for its varying shades of green. With this image in mind, I am now fully prepared to dedicate myself to botany; longing for that academic passion toward something so spiritual yet so seductively objective.

Twenty minutes in this greenhouse have taught me that if you can't become something, you might as well surround yourself with it. If I stare long enough at the nyctinastic flora I can embody their solar cyclicity and open my face to the tendrils mirroring me.

I told myself death was on the arm of my ivy plant growing across the room to meet me, wrote that I was a wilting flower and you were the setting sun. Maybe if I can learn to hold these frail petals between my index finger and thumb without tearing them, I can learn to carry myself gracefully.

My spine straight, my gaze over spotless rooftops. I don't hesitate. My hands are ephemeral confidence, launching recklessly out to touch the green growth. It's not an action I would describe as solar. I resent this Dionysian part of myself and hide it behind wool curtains and leather masks. These wardrobe choices still feel too predatory and as I walk into this glass-paned room the green is chattering all around me: We can smell the blood.

Do you remember my pale imitations of the sun? The yellow overhead light paired with the drapes drawn tightly shut? I would bruise my spine on hardwood floors, gazing upward as if I could blind myself with this artificial hope. As if I could photosynthesize holy connections. Praying for everything Apollonian.

The little mercurial charm I had left was waning, red blooming between my legs like a blood moon. Cursed again with predictability.

How I wished I could become an empirical species instead of a zealous and rabid one. Something solar and even, something desired for its four leaves. Something tangible and unexpectedly soft instead of unexpectedly thorny. Something botanists want to look in the face. To examine and dissect until they find a scientific name for the shade of green growing brighter behind their closed eyelids

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