A Contemporary Reflection on the Traditional Values of Marital Union


A shovel and a hoe were married in a quiet garden ceremony. His parents piled up
huge mounds of disapproval. Hers picked at his history of mistakes and his blunt
stubborn way with dead things. She introduced her family at the wedding as casually as
possible, entered the reception tent smiling and laughing falsely. With a hoe and a hoe
and a ho ho ho.
His parents were not amused, had never, in fact, been amused, resented her
incessant picking at the scrawny rows of late vegetables long past due for turning under.
He leaned against the old oak and pondered. Acorns fell all around him and he tried
gathering them unto something or other, but it wasn’t going very well and his new wife
tried to offer comfort and assistance, but she too proved clumsy, catching her flat foot on
every lump in the grass, and neither could admit the failure to their in-laws.
Just in time, a child came along and gathered the acorns in a wooden bucket, which
the child left sitting beside the shovel and hoe as a wedding gift. The guests marveled at
the folksy symbolism it had taken a child to misplace so effectively as they each took an
acorn home to place upon their mantel in recognition of the union’s potential. It was a
proud day indeed for the shovel family and the hoe clan. A proud day indeed.
Or one day a child came along and gathered the acorns unto a wooden bucket, but
the hoe did not believe in human intervention, and thus what was said to have happened
was not allowed to happen, and an ancient religion sprouted magically from a chosen
acorn, later brought down in its prime by yet another gatherer of the human
interventionist kind with an abiding vision of domestic tranquility attached to the
olfactory associations of well-supplied fireplaces, roasting acorns and matronly fussing.
Or the acorns gathered gravitationally unto themselves in the dark forest and
elected one of their own to lead a revolution against a corrupt prior government that
turned its citizens into vertical tools, and he became the first martyr to the cause when a
feathered black messenger from the sharp-footed tyrants that nest in the very limbs of the
problem discovered the new leader, broke him and ate him.
Or perhaps mixed marriages were simply not allowed, even in merely symbolic
Or one day a child planted a garden in the vast forest where a tree fell every three
or four minutes and no one heard them because they were so far apart. It was a child who
had planted the possibility of knowing all this falling by thinking of its garden as many
gardens in many parts of the forest, just as a child plants many possibilities of alternate
lives in its own future as well as in the imperfect past, where no one pays any attention to
the crushed blossoms of wandering verb tenses.
Or one day the marriage fell apart before it even got started, for apparently
inconsequential reasons, and no one noticed a damned thing.
Or one day a child was married in a solemn playpen ceremony and baby shovels
and hoes began appearing everywhere, astounding medical science until the appearance
of baby rakes provided the missing clue.
Or one day the green vegetables in the garden were screaming for attention when the shovel and the hoe came to their rescue with help from the child who had grown into
a very large adult with a very green sense of humor, and this very large adultlet took lots
of green things to the market, where there was a special on Wednesdays for the senior
citizens, the healthiest little buggers in all the married land.
Or none of it ever happened at all, not a bit of it.
Or whatever happened was somebody else’s story, somebody who might never get
married, but likes to think about it.
Or all of it happened, or might as well have, and a whole lot more, because you
don’t have to jump off a cliff to know what will happen when you get to the bottom, but
you have to get hurt with some little hurt from some little prior jumping don’t you?
Or maybe you just jump and you never get to the bottom of it.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.