The Mad Agriculture Journal
June 19, 2023
Jupiter (Jupe) Javeta
Jupiter (Jupe) Javeta
The line between the self and grief blurs like the line between the night and the subconscious. It’s the way these things become one landscape when there are no lights around. In the dead of night, the outlines that separate tree from person, and that separate the ground from the space in front of my body have been erased. All at once, I am inside my head and simultaneously in the middle of a forest, and the forest has become the topography of my mind. At least, that’s what it feels like when there are no lights around. No lights either in the sky, or at the end of the tunnel.
I’m grieving, and I feel no relief. I keep trying to place a plant that’s been dying for weeks near a window. At this point, it’s really more like a stem. I forgot about it until it was dying, but now that I remember, it’s become a symbol of what I can overcome. I absolutely can bring it back to life. I absolutely keep forgetting to water it. But this–this will be the symbol of me overcoming all odds.
A time when the air is so crisp, I realize I’m tilted towards the expanse of space and breathing in its chill.
We are a vulnerable species, helplessly reliant on some kind of heat lamp. Please turn. Hurry up and tilt differently. The plant I tried to bring back to life, to represent my new beginning, died. So many leaves fell from my monsteras and banana plants, I considered burying them to save face. I can grow crops and have conversations with strangers, but house plants and self-esteem need one on one time in a way I don’t understand.
I should be ordering seeds—for a personal garden. Over this winter, things have become personal.
Solitary. Intimate. No one else is around.
A lot of things became personal and intimate this winter. Quiet.
I left the farm. It feels hard to plant a garden. It feels hard to plant. It feels hard. I keep the pot with the dead plant in it next to the monsteras. I am hoping to see something sprout out of the grave. But the plant is dead.
I can’t move the pot just yet.
Winter is often spoken of as a rebirthing time, a transitional time—which is a nice way to say things leave and die. But things also die in the summer.
I’m not sure what’s worse: the deadness of winter with its lack of sunlight, instigating seasonal depression. Or crying for hours in the middle of a beautifully cloudless day. Crying while the sun is shining feels unappreciative. Almost like I’m offensively grieving. Offensive to who? To everyone. To the people who are rooting for me, to the people who don’t know me. To the personal garden I was supposed to start.
It feels like grieving is never the right time to happen. Especially not when things are supposed to be growing.
I suppose I am growing while grieving. The seeds are in the mail. Bags of soil are waiting on my porch. I’m sitting in the backyard, watering the soil too early—50 droplets at a time. This is a nice way to say I’ve been crying in my backyard instead of planting. Everything is waiting to see what I’m going to do. I’ve been sitting in one spot so long, the grass is brown beneath me. Decaying organic matter like me. Maybe if I sit here long enough, weeping every so often, but mostly sweating, maybe mushrooms will sprout out from the dampness and darkness of my folded knees and elbows. Why do I sweat so much when I’m sad? The spot I’ve been metaphorically sitting in is brown, but it is green everywhere else in the yard. This is not a dig at myself, it is a revelation about everything else.
I see a mosquito coming nearer to me, obviously ready to die. Things die in the summer after all. The neighbor’s cats are pregnant again. I see a few bees. A long-legged wasp. Me and my dead house plant together, near the windows of life. But only my house plant is dead. It is quiet for a long time. The heat from the sun and the cool from the evening are in perfect balance, amplifying a standstill silence that makes it seem like the elements are at equilibrium, or at truce with each other. And then, out of nowhere, similarly to Hexus—a green thing appears to sprout from my arm. This, too, is a fancy way to say: I don’t feel better, but these living things around me seem to believe I am one of them. Peer pressure is the greatest motivator.
I fix myself tea. And walk to the dollar store to get some cayenne pepper. I miss walking through rows and rows of collards. This is not the same spring from last year. Someone is giving away free seeds on a queer app. I’m late planting. And still weary. I take three days to make a table. I use 2x6’s and have to use a dolly to move it. I move it personally. Sawdust covers my front room. I don’t care. My friend returns a tent she borrowed 2 years ago. I change the lightbulbs. I clean out old seed trays. I scream at all the bugs in the soil of my monsteras. A kind stranger on WhatsApp sends me a voice note about traveling and farming.
I repot the monsteras. I don’t move the pot with the dead plant in it just yet.