Eavesdropping on Private Voices

When I opened the door
I found the vine leaves
speaking among themselves in abundant
whispers.
                   My presence made them
hush their green breath,
embarrassed, the way
humans stand up, buttoning their jackets,
acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if
the conversation had ended
just before you arrived.
                                               I liked
the glimpse I had, though,
of their obscure
gestures. I liked the sound
of such private voices. Next time
I’ll move like cautious sunlight, open
the door by fractions, eavesdrop
peacefully.
~Denise Levertov, “Aware” from This Great Unknowing.

If we’re not careful around here, we would be swallowed inch by inch by a variety of vines surrounding our home and farm buildings. Between the ivy, the Virginia creeper and the ubiquitous blackberry vines, we’re mere audience to a variety of opportunistic expansion efforts of the local flora.

When I open the front or back door during these days of late summer, I peek out to see what might be reaching out to grab me for a toehold as I pass by. The vines crawl up the window screens and reach their little tendrils inside to see if the house is fair game. The leaves whisper to each other about their best strategy for total domination; I eavesdrop on them as they drop from the eaves and their discussions are private and hushed, as if they were meeting in a backroom with the shades pulled down.

We humans think we’re in control, but we’re not. Not even close. We pull them down when they are most bare and vulnerable in the winter and still they’re back with gusto in the spring. These vines and creepers are the epitome of resiliency and I’m convinced they conspire among each other, plotting the eventual takeover.

I don’t mind so much, I guess. I respect a robust growth and survival instinct but I’m all for keeping our boundaries intact.

We’re good as long as they don’t expect to come in for a cup of coffee or share my pillow with me. My welcome mat only extends so far…

If you enjoy the Barnstorming blog, consider ordering our book, available here: