Speaking in Tongues

Image source: WikiMedia Commons
Photo by Joshua Veitch-MichaelisLeamington Spa, England

Over the crest of a hill of great effort lies a word garden of dreams. The garden has many beds filled with buds of potential and bright yellow promise. Its gardener tends it (except when he doesn’t), fertilizing the shoots of new growth with bullshit and the occasional smile, then watering them down with venom and sometimes cheap wine. 

Hopeful passersby who stumble upon the garden pause to listen to the language of flowers and the sales pitch of their gardener. Both wax poetic but with words that are full of holes. “Here,” the gardener says. He hands them a lush bouquet of purple platitudes and false promises from one of the beds hidden in the back of the garden, along with his secret formula for success packaged in a mouthful of emptiness. “Take this formula and fertilize your own potential and promise, and they are sure to grow.”

The bouquet speaks the language of friendship but the words are in code.  They actually mean: “I really don’t give a damn; don’t you fuckers know that?”  Sadly, the passersby don't know that. They come from a place where the bouquets speak sweet truth and friendship means caring. The realization that they’ve been duped crashes down hard. But everyone wants to believe in dreams, don’t they, and the word garden looks like fertile ground for growing seedling dreams into blooms of success. So some (the hopelessly naïve ones, perhaps) will return to the garden again and again, hoping that the gardener and his bouquets might really mean it next time. Fortunately, most of them will eventually figure out that the garden produces nothing but disappointing pipe dreams and heartache.

Meanwhile, back in the garden, the buds of potential never open and the promise reneges. It isn’t long before broken dreams wither and die, quickly choked back by crabby grass, cockspur, and deadly nightshade.  And the gardener grows bitter like the weeds in his garden, wondering why no one comes by anymore. Alas, he never understood the language of his own flowers when they told him with their dying breath (in code, of course) that the only thing that grows in gardens fed with toxic waste is loneliness.


Linked in at the Tenth Daughter of Memory


  1. Yikes! And here I thought I was in for one of those "hearts and flowers", Hallmark card sort of things (ready to move on, if I'm honest) and then BAM!

    Loved the "except when he doesn't" and "and the gardener grows bitter..."

    Surprising, and sharp!

  2. amen patti...so true in what is produced based on how we tend our garden...sadly the gardner does not figure that out until it is too late...

  3. I've wandered the wasteland of a few different toxic gardens one too many times... learned the hard way that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

    Every once in a while, it's worth tilling a garden completely under and letting it winter-over rather than allowing it to degenerate into poison.

    Something about... "learning to refrain from speaking if your words don't improve on silence". Or something.

    Powerful words, Patti.

    (I'm still reading my way through your most recent series. Loving every single chapter, too...)

  4. This surprised me too, Patti - powerfully written and extremely insightful. Wowzers!

  5. I think there's only one other who could write metaphor so powerfully, and I thought you had 'nothin'? I still believe that we are buds with potential, some of us actually beginning to bloom.

  6. Holy Sh*t! Asterisk appropriate for "Speaking in Tongues," no? You nailed something I've been thinking of lately. And you did it without missing a beat! I LOVED this. And it surprised me. Which I also love.

  7. I've read this piece several times; I cannot get it out of my mind. So well done, and the message is worth remebering. You really nailed it with this one.

  8. This gardener rings a bell for me. Melikes.

  9. hmmm. not your usual fair, but poetic and witty and sublime...i do love garden talk, not so much the weeds

  10. Enjoy the journey into something a little different... :)

  11. Ah yes. It ain't all lollipops and roses out there. Brilliant!

  12. WoW. Very interesting.
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

  13. wow patti...this is awesome..what a great metaphor..excellent storytelling...and a sad truth as well..


Thoughts? I would love to hear from you.