This One Time, 103

This one time a small lizard was climbing up the wall, stopping periodically and chirping. I was back in church, communing with the horrible paintings on the walls and the wasps with their separate shrine hanging on the armpit of the crucifix. I wasn’t sure why the gecko was singing, unclear whether it was a territorial thing or a calling for a mate thing or, given our location, a prayer or a hymn.

Most of the plant-life on the island was blasted and burned, but island life is used to a bit of abuse. Mostly from lava flows. Every island there is started from bare rock and whatever washed up on the shore, either on its own or in the pockets of colonizers. I could see the moon out the window, mostly full, and thought of it as it actually is — bare volcanic rock. The last few visitors tried hard not to bring it anything to work with, and I guessed that was a shame. It must be ripe by now, straining for the first shallow, salt-encrusted roots to take hold.

I’d found myself down at the university’s botanical gardens as I was recovering from that nasty fever that had cooked my brains, helping out with cultured coffee seedlings. I was still missing an awful lot that I’m sure will never come back, but I no longer feel like I’m wading through peanut butter to carry my thoughts from one corner of my head to the other.

They’ve got paperwork going to see if they can get me enrolled, but in the meanwhile I’m working in the gardens now, suited up and collecting samples and pollens for archival. I’m on the official payroll and everyone says I’ve got the knack.

I watched the gecko ignore a wasp that had landed nearby. They were near the window now, in the same view as the moon.

There were already a couple of global seed banks, but it occurred to me as I looked at the moon that there was something huge that they were missing, in concept and in actuality. Number one, they were here on earth, where they weren’t exactly safe. All things considered. Second, they all needed a bit of something. Some island magic.

In order to germinate, some seeds need special chemicals and compounds in the soil — and sometimes those are enzymes from particular microbes and larger creatures in the dirt. They needed soil aerators and pollinators and at least documentation of moisture levels and soil composition. The seed banks had maybe a fifth of what they needed in order to be useful. And also, they needed to be on the moon. With worms and lizards and moths and wasps — or at least some frozen eggs.

I had no idea what problems wasps would have with flying in lunar gravity, but I was pretty sure they could work it out. It would be fun to watch. Ants, earthworms, this gecko here — they would have an easier time of it. There should be an archival bank, sure, but there should also be a culture garden. Live and thriving, running twenty-four/seven. Life soup. Like that covered jar on grandma’s kitchen counter where she kept the heirloom yeast going for the sourdough bread.

And the soup pot should have in it whatever nasty virus it was that nearly killed me, that cooked out all the garbage that my head must have been filled with that kept me from being able to be who I am now. And maybe it should also have this tiny little shack of a cathedral, this place where I was found, with its wasp-nuns and gecko-priests and moth-deacons, complete with its abstract (to the attendants) paintings and earth’s last bouquet of orchids, just in case there’s something here, in this place, something inadequately explored by science, that’s critical to the process or preserving life and all the little day-to-day transformations that turn one moment into another.

Tomorrow morning when I go to work, I’ll tell everybody that I’m taking their project to the moon, and they’re welcome to come with me if they want to come.


April 13, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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