Garden State of Mind
Mosaic mycelia coil, assuming a soursop tree shape. They coat its fruits’ spines. Also fenced in with disease, Mangifera’s offerings are false. Ripening before you could call them mangoes, they shrivel to unclasp and fall. The aborted, each a failed family tree, draw money flies and millipedes into the shadows. See also the Bajan cherry, custard apple, sugar apple and guava plants – the blight embroiders their branches and once glossy canvases. Continued interest in legacy, its seeds tucked into an eye-catching flesh, has also withered.
My bare sole sinks into the low, luxurious zoysia grass between trees. There is no evidence of effort made to arrest the creeping cotton, but I hear, You see the state of the azaleas? The gardenias? The ixora at the front, right where people enter?
As if I am not people too, I used to think.
The ixora, infected with cottony mealy bug, is also sooty, like something living in the line of a fire’s breath. What makes them, by nature, be treated so? Susceptible, as if too sensitive to their environment?
The overlording clouds keep you in the dark. Likewise, people who suffer encapsulating winter are prone to depression. Light cannot penetrate, and there dives D and serotonin levels. What luck to be unconscious, thoughtless of one’s damnation for lack of illumination and warmth, in the tropics nonetheless!
The ixora blooms, seemingly defiant. Its tubular corollas are the sole parts unpenetrated by the blight. As if knowing it is because of these desperate inflorescences the plant hasn’t been uprooted, the infection shows self-discipline. But it will inevitably spread where it is fed.
Why then has it climbed the chain-link fence, crawled upon the once-white two-seater bench across from the whitewashed birdbath-boy? You must look to see what cascades from above. The cryptic Joseph coat and scarlet-in-name-only hibiscus, their skin a scaly pox.
My eyes approach, then enter their world. The scale insects line the leaf midribs’ undersides. They resemble chitons, cemented to wave-ragged rocks at low tide. Ants patrolling, quicken their pace in response to the laminae bent not between breezes, but my trigger finger.
With their acid-filled abdomens, things become clear – my skin is under attack. As an ixora plant in the drought-stricken garden, the sap-sucking flies huddle to shape me a different brain, their activities generate my thoughts, a honeydew continually excreted and that the ants defend. How self-justified I feel for having been pierced by those, themselves covered in holes that coalesce.
The raging, xerophilic infestation thrives on the sugary exudate, on the magical thoughts of employing words to change the character of those ‘other’, separate. Sap suckers tap into vascular tissues with thread-filled mouths. They condemn their host, consuming nutrient meant for future stores.
It is shame of this history of cotton that stunts growth and yellows confidence. Yet, while mealy bug is considered a garden’s cosmetic challenge, it is generally ignored by visitors and residents alike, if it is even noticed.
You may wash and wipe affected parts, but the blight will resurface unless the underlying cause is undermined. Eradicate them all – those sweet thoughts of peace, lobotomize.
One tablespoon per gallon of grief of a long-chained salt or formulations of castor oils will turn you inside out; ‘bread and cheese’ as a febrifuge; white sage and black sage to encourage perspiration; milk-weed and bushels of ceracee bush for blood cleansing; abrin, from the bellies of ‘crab eye’ seeds. Apply to the limbs as sentiment, compelled to protect its source will redirect neurons, signaling new infestations.
Learn good pest management. New habits re-mold the plastic mind. Talk along different paths of action. Listen to hear and look to see without naming, for nomenclature embodies restrictive judgments; plant decisions, actions grow, some crops fail; recommit to the minding of the mind. Consistently go back and forth, imitating a rake’s removal of what’s dead and fallen.
And then, see beneath: the tangerine love vine dances upon rivetted pods of river tamarind as the yellow Christmas candle points out speckled butterfly orchids. See them, pinned among clusters of orange-bronze bromeliads and fuchsia bougainvillea, bordering the aristocratic lawn. The colour was there all along, undercover of sight, behind clouds solid with the weight of their own fruitlets, shaken from the skies, rolling across the lowlands even as beams blaze through and the blight is beaten back.