Spooky Season: Botanical beauty and its beast

Botanic Gardens Giant: By Sabrina Hunter, CW

Underneath the gardens bloom,

The roots grow deep.

But just beneath their reach,

A giant sleeps.

 

There he’s been for a thousand years.

His disturbed slumber makes for rustling bushes,

Turning in his sleep, making the world above move.

 

Escaping through the dome,

Piece by piece becoming loose until now

When he walks the gardens.

His dark silhouette blocking the moon,

Consumed in darkness.

 

One night a year,

He will stay out on campus

And the thunderous thuds that you hear at night

Are the Garden Giant.


There’s been talk about that old dome in the Botanic Gardens. 35 years standing are those rounded wood lathes, rotting and on the brink of crashing down to dust.

I hope it gets fixed soon; there’s too much to lose if it all falls apart.

To get why I’m saying that, I’ll let you in on a secret: you know that bearded iris section of the Gardens, tons of flowers in all sorts of colors? I planted all of them. Crazy, right? How could one gardener go about planting all of those irises? Well, I’ll tell you.

It all started with the dome, a handful of years ago. I was doing some late night pruning then, on a cool night under a full moon. I had only just picked up the job, and I was ambitious back then. I wanted to make the Gardens beautiful. From fronds to petals, from stalks to trunks, there’s an allure in every little sprout and seedling I see, but back then I thought the Gardens were lacking. Everything just seemed so … lifeless.

B o o m. Suddenly the ground quaked, and leaves rustled all around the dome. Pots fell over, and I almost did the same. The shaking subsided but b o o m, soon came another earthly shift. You know how when you slam a table, everyone else can feel it? That’s what this felt like; it was like a boulder thwomped itself into the ground … then somehow lifted up and thwomped again. Or maybe… stomped? Footsteps?

B o o m. B o o m. B O O M. Whatever shook the earth was getting closer, and the earth’s strengthening tremors only intensified mine. But every shivering bone of mine froze solid when I was met with a new sound: a voice, more akin to a roar and deafening, resounding — terrifying.

RETURN TO THE EARTH.”

It was after this bone-chilling command that I heard a scream, more human in nature. Still under the dome, I looked to where the bearded irises would be, as they weren’t there yet, and saw what seemed to be a homeless person. How they got in, I don’t know, but the cause of their fear was well-justified.

He and I could only look up in shock at that golem. A behemoth creature, human in shape but ten times the size of one, composed of dirt and covered in bushes, roots and flowers. Where the eyes would be was only void-like holes.

“KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ONE WITH NATURE.

The golem took an enormous hand to the man, smothering his fear-paralyzed body into the dirt. I couldn’t hear any more screams, the earthy palm too thick to let them through. The golem bent down and pushed the helpless homeless into the dirt, almost like a seed.

When the golem got back up, I couldn’t even tell there was a corpse in the soil, even with the moonlight illuminating the Gardens. But it was bright enough to see the golem turn its gaze to me.

“JOIN HIM.”

Before I could even process the option to run, the golem leapt for me; at its apex the frame of its soily body was encased within the circle of the moon, as if in the center of a lunar spotlight. Looking back, I would dare say it was a thing of beauty.

It crashed into the earth right in front of the dome, making every plant inside tremble and every pot topple. Dust shook from the already weakened wooden lathes of the dome. Strangely it seemed to affect the golem the same way, as it groaned and pieces of its body fell off. I fell on my butt from the point-blank seismic slam, and soon after the golem threw itself over me.

My nose met with the dank moist mud of the golem’s body. Every orifice of my face was clogged with dirt. The world was muffled. It was dark. I was above the ground and yet six feet under, and the dirt turned my screams into nothing more than hopeless murmurs.

And yet I’m alive now because of what the golem saw in me that night. Before I suffocated, the golem removed himself from me and stood outside of the dome. Once I finished coughing up dirt, It looked down at me and told a truth I’ll never forget.

“You know what true beauty is.”

No longer did it’s hulking voice distraught my ears. The golem understood; it saw the passion I wished to pour into the Gardens. It understood that I did not know how to express it.

“I would be honored to assist you in your task.”

I understood that the answer was here.

If you take a seat on the bench inside the dome, you’ll be looking right at the bearded irises. Compared to the rest of the Gardens, those masterpieces of mine possess the truest of beauty.

They’re just full of life — and they’re just the beginning.

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