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Schefflera – Nancy Freund

Running the gauntlet, Lynnie bats back the tri-color ginger leaves, whacking her way forward, navy baby birds, chirping black parakeets, here now is an owl. She ducks her head and barges through. Here are thorns and prickers. She proceeds, unimpeded. Unimpeded. She keeps the word in her mouth like a lemon lozenge. Honey lemon, hint of mint. She thwacks.

Red leather studded sandals. Her meaty calves. Giant split-leaf philodendron. She’s aware she’s being surveyed from behind.

Newly departed cornsnake guts coil in her path, its pretty patterned skin intact, still bright, still red-and-beige. She hops it, undeterred. Here’s a monstera deliciosa. The smell of pine chips and manure. Heart shaped, Swiss cheese leaves, enormous, prehistoric. Here’s a dwarf palmetto, thwack it back, a lacey Royal Poinciana, never mind it’s fragile, thwack it back. 

Here’s a clearing. Here’s a breeze that swirls her hair and Spanish moss. Here’s where she regains her ground. She breathes. Here’s a focus group around a table, sampling cereal.

‘A little salty,’ says the lady with the curlers.

‘God, yes,’ another nods. ‘They went crazy with the salt.’

Here is Lynnie’s clipboard. Here’s her boss observing. Lynnie bats banana leaves. She’s busy. She has a kid at home, a printed paycheck to pick up. Life doesn’t have to be so difficult, you know. Here are mosquitoes. Here’s a woman who keeps her password on a Post-It. Her password is upper-lower PassworD. Here’s a Starburst bush in flower. Pink protrusions, profligate. Little floral fireworks. Almost vulgar. Just enough.

Here’s a gentle rain. A schefflera. Umbrella tree. Here is wind. A gale. A squall. Here is swampland, alligator crocodile iguanas making love. A thermo seven-siren blast. Here widow-maker tamarinds are pulling out and flying now, trailing roots behind like kite tails, dropping root ball dirt on Lynnie, hunkered down and looking up. She kicks off her sandals, dangles from a nervous knuckle, and she runs until she’s home. She’ll get her payday later.

Her trees moan and billow. Here’s a door. A ceiling fan. Impact windows. Ship-lap cabinets. Here’s the smell of frying onions, maybe bacon. Here’s a boy who loves his mother. Here’s a song you’ll recognize.