I’ve watched this cluster of magnolias since it was barely more than a group of green stems; removed off-shoots that could weaken the central core as it grew; freed it of lower branches so it could rise skyward.Ultimately, two of the strongest shoots, perhaps through some internal DNA, decided to bond and make a tree. One day the space between the survivors will disappear; they will have grown together, fully merged into one grand, flowering tree. Short of chopping it down, the cluster would have done what it did, become what it became, with our without my attempts to help it along. All I could do was worry over its future, smile at its progress, and be thrilled when a flower appeared.
How do we make it alone in the dark days of alienation that often swamp us in our mid-to-late-twenties, when we are vulnerable saplings whipped in winds that strip us bare and force us to bow down in drenching rains? When we know a window might be closing?
Her voice to my listening ear over a tenuous phone line late in the night: “I don’t think it will ever happen for me. I think I’ll be alone for the rest of my life.”
Knowing it was love that was the making of me and its earlier absence nearly my undoing, I prostrate myself, pound the heel of my hand softly into my forehead, whisper “Please,” and fret into the night as grandmothers do.