The Sunflowers

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young —
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds —
each one a new life! —

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

Pops was a sunflower. Not just metaphorically, but actually. His 6-foot-2-inch 165-pound stalk topped with a smirk (and chuckle) that seemed to both follow — and originate from —the sun.

And like a sunflower, Pops followed the sun to Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma. With us packed in the back row like seeds, bringing new life to his wonderful (and burnished) stories.

(At Aunty Lynne’s, thousands of grasshoppers celebrated the summer heat, as her field of sunflowers swayed to the Naughty by Nature Walkman rhythms).

Pops said the rest stop was just around the corner. It wasn’t. But eventually, his final rest stop was. May 18, 2011. 6 years ago.

Since then, the universe has felt a little more separate. The crowd of many standing a little less straight. The work — of turning lives into a celebration — a little longer.

Sometimes, I think that Pops is one of billions of “Pops.” Of sunflowers.

If he was French, he might have been Antione de Saint-Exupery’s Pops. And if he was fictional — which he partly was — he certainly would have been the “Pops” from Exupery’s The Little Prince.

Or he would have been the Little Prince himself. And like the Little Prince, he would remind us that although there might be billions of roses, or sunflowers:

“it is common to take a dog for a walk, it is less common to take a dream for a walk” || @amalacademy + @understory cofounder | nature novel in progress

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