The Therapist in his Garden

uprooting_weeds

To prepare, he drinks a solid bolt of midgrade whisky and pokes about until he finds his daughter’s ganja and clumsily presses in a bong toke, blowing it out the cracked window toward the garden like she must do but, unlike her, failing, half the plume turning back in on itself, stinking up the mussed bedroom, sneaking into the weave of the pink comforter. Nervous but giggling like a teen again, he all but runs to the garden now, work gloves slapping his ass from where they’re tucked in his back pocket and as he feels that, he knows he won’t be putting them on. He lands on his knees amid the wilting rhododendrons and histrionic rosebushes, always peeling brown leaves no matter the season nor the TLC lavished upon them. Rioting up the trunk of the Japanese Maple, he sees, is some kind of white rot that his wife would know how to identify but that he only knows as a mar, a threat that he wants gone. He seizes the wood and rubs up and down vigorously, laughing in an incommensurate way when he realizes he’s kneeling in his yard masturbating a sick tree. He finds the saw-leaved mops of dandelion plants and digs his fingers in beneath the roots ripping, tugging, twisting, pulling up as much soil and frizzy root and wounded potato bug as he can with each arc of his arm. When this is done there is a pile in the center of the flagstone, like a bunch of scalps. The therapist is winded, and thirsty more because of the ganja than the exertion, but he’s not ready for a break yet. This is a break, this Wednesday morning, from what he’d normally be doing and taking a break from a break makes him grimace in determination, hurl himself at the choker vines creeping over his fence from the alley like burglars. He slides out his blade and flicks it open in a motion like he’s confronting the threat, an action so simple and yet so grave, a gesture he’s only had the occasion to truly perform once in his life, decades ago in a Central American capital. It does the trick to his sympathetic nervous system and the fight, flight or freeze juice whirs in his chest; he knows he only recognizes it because of his professional training—otherwise he’d be confused by the constriction of his chest and the increased power in his muscles as they snap to, sawing and hacking through the thick brown vines, breaking them down with long tugs as well, freeing his fence entirely from their grasp by the time he has to stop to shirk his light jacket. Gazing down at the shattered wrists of the deadly, constricting plant he almost regrets his violence. Perhaps he should have been gentler in removing them from his fence, even if it had taken many times as long—after all, the choker vines aren’t any more malevolent than the Maple or the rose bushes. But then he realizes that the rose bushes will require gentleness, patience and finely attuned skill to prune, how with the rose bushes he has no choice but to touch their disease with love and so he’s glad—glad as hell—that he has summoned adrenaline and taken his blade to the stubborn knots of choker vines, that that is precisely what was indicated for their kind.

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