I am a blade of grass. I live in a field of blades of grass.
My name is Blade.
So is the name of every other blade of grass in this field, for we are all brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and cousins and cousins of cousins, and we are all of us children of First Blade.
And we are all one with the field and the field is all one with us. That is why I am never alone, and that is why I am always alone. That is why talking to my brother next door, or to my sister next door to him, or even to some distant cousin’s cousin many doors down is just like talking to myself.
Then again, what does it matter? For I am deaf, and I am blind. But I can smell the air and I can taste the earth with my fingers (you might think of them as roots). I can also touch: the air with my stem and blade, the earth with the same fingers that taste.
The air smells sweetly of warmth and of lovely carbon. The earth tastes muskily of life and of many other fingers all tasting and touching the earth just like mine do.
The air smells of freedom, the earth tastes of life, and food, and of safely ensconced. The air smells of water sometimes, and the water tastes of cloud and of far-away water rising, perhaps out of other fields of grass, or out of some bigger, endless water where no fields of grass sway in the wind.
The earth is a life-giver, and so is the air.
Even though we are a peaceful lot, we still have enemies.
Some of them are very small and they tickle my fingers and many of these little ones like to eat them too (you might think of them as insects or worms—creepy crawlies). Not that their eating hurts, for we are blessed with a painless existence, but having your fingers consumed by something or someone that tickles and whom you cannot see is not a pleasant sensation, and it tends to uproot you—and if not uproot, then starve you since now (rootless or less rooted) you can no longer bring the earth inside and up into stem and blade as sustenance. And so you starve.
Sometimes to death.
Other enemies are bigger. Some of these (you might think of them as moles and such) dig and burrow and don’t seem to care how many fingers they sever in the process as they tunnel away toward who knows what dark fortress they will then sally forth from and then retreat to.
They eat fingers, too.
They are blind just like us, but we don’t eat them.
Other enemies are bigger still: portable mountains on four legs that do nothing all day but chomp, chomp, chomp our blades and stems to nothing (you might think of them as cows). But they are the lesser enemy of these three for they never hurt our fingers, leaving us free to take stock of the post-cow situation, tally the damage, and sprout again through the earth and into air and sunlight and blessed water.
There is a fourth enemy, the most devastating enemy of them all (you might think of him or her as people). Seeing us, the whole field, enjoying the sweet air and basking and swaying in sweet wind, they grow envious of our united happiness and then decide that where we live is precisely where they need to park small armies of their round-legged cars and so they plow us under and then rake the earth level and then pave it all over with tar and asphalt and concrete to kill once and for all even the strongest notion of bladely survival.
Certain death, that.
Sometimes we can tell when this is about to happen. Boots stomp around and upon us and measurements are taken. Eyes squint and heads nod. Decisions are made and so and so many cars will find somewhere to rest their weary wheels. But even though we feel them coming, even though we know what is about to happen: that this is the end of us; for even though we can tell, we cannot run away to save ourselves and this is the problem with fingers, they don’t walk, not even an inch—much less up and run.
Instead we turn to each other and say our goodbyes.
Grandma and her many elder cousins think we only live once; they think that once death comes (you might think of death as winter) that is it: the chill winds, the air that sometimes tastes of ice and hides the sun from brittle and browning blades, this wind, this ice, they spell the end. All I can say is that Grandma—and her many cousins—are having serious lapses of memory for surely they have known the sweet stirring of warmer earth, of fingers again flexing (if ever so little at first) and of the song of the Blade Divine loving the earth anew (you might think of this as spring).
But in her defense, Grandma is very, very old. Some even say that she is the original blade in our field, that’s how old. Some even say that she knew First Blade personally, that’s how old. So, perhaps she has outlived her memory and that is why for her—and her elder cousins—there is no more spring, no more sun, no tasting sweet air again once winter comes. But there certainly is—for her as for all of us—and most of us do remember.
I know, I’ve checked. They all love Grandma, though, and lament her loss of memory since it seems to make her sad most of the time: her days now filled with doom and gloom and how we had better mend our ways or the Blade Divine will send fire our way and burn us to ashes. Since I’ve never known Grandma to lie, I believe that she believes what she says. But things cannot possibly be that bad, that’s what I think.
Fire, of course, is certain death, too. We fear it, for we cannot run. We share this fear with all rooted lives, even with the biggest tree.
At the very beginning of time (so Grandma tells us when she is not all doomy and gloomy, or when we prod, or sometimes trick her to) the Blade Divine gave First Blade a choice: seed or semen.
First Blade made his choice, but the thing about that is that First Blade chose for all of us, and for all time. For me, for us, there’s no choosing left to be done: the choice is already long made: seed.
“And praise the Blade Divine,” says Grandma. “You cannot even begin to imagine the curse First Blade saved us from.”
“No,” says I, quite truthfully, “I cannot.”
And now Grandma falls silent, trying to determine whether I’ve just been insolent or whether I’m curious. Truth be told, I’ve just been a little of both. I’ve heard the story before, or course, many times—as have all of us—but I’d like to hear it again. So I look as curious as I can possibly look.
She takes the longest time making up her mind, and then she makes it up, and she makes it up in my curious favor, for she begins the tale we have all heard so many times from the beginning.
“The Blade Divine,” she says, “who has always existed and always will, and who was not engendered, knows all and wills us all the best.”
“And wills us all the best,” murmur all blades within earshot of Grandma’s droning, as is our custom with this story.
“And when the turn came to us, the Blade Divine called forth First Blade and asked him to attend and listen.”
“Asked him to attend and listen,” said even more blades as silence was now spreading, the better to hear Grandma’s droning.
“There are lives rooted and lives roaming,” said Grandma in her Blade-Divine voice.
“Lives rooted and lives roaming,” murmured the field.
“What is the difference?” she says, now in her First-Blade voice (we are all familiar with these different voices, Grandma has them down to a tee).
“The difference is that roaming has legs or fins or wings and moves here and there upon the earth, through the water, or upon the wind.” She pauses to let us respond.
“Upon the earth, through the water, or upon the wind,” we say.
“Rooted stays put where fresh fingers first grasp the earth.”
“Where fresh fingers first grasp the earth,” we say.
“That,” says her First-Blade voice, “is not a choice. Who would not rather roam the earth, swim the sea, and sail the sky?”
“There is a price,” says her Blade-Divine voice. “A warm and dark and wicked price.”
“A warm and dark and wicked price,” says the field, now to a blade as Grandma’s voice has risen to reach them all.
“No price can be too great when the other choice is staying put and to never, ever leave your birthplace,” says First Blade.
“Speak not so soon, nor so foolishly,” says the Blade Divine. “Let me give you a taste of the price. Then you can choose.”
Here she pauses again, waiting for our response, but by now we are so caught up in her story (although knowing what’s to come, of course) that we’ve forgotten—and if one of us forgets, well, so do all, so the silence lasts and lasts and at last Grandma gets tired of waiting for us and continues:
“Then the Blade Divine cast the engendering spell upon First Blade and First Blade turned into giver blade and fell to the ground and there began to writhe and shake and moan and cry and cast about for taker blades to copulate with and flood with his semen that other blades might then spawn and grow to giver blades or taker blades to then roam the earth and cast about for other blades to copulate with, and so flood their semen with to spawn yet other giver blades and taker blades.”
Just on the offchance that we might remember to respond, Grandma—whose memory of a sudden seems picture-perfect—pauses again, but no takers. So she continues:
“First Blade cast about on the ground, kicking his feet in the air and then finding the ground and then running around here and there and everywhere on this ground looking, looking, looking for taker blades, but of course the Blade Divine had made no taker blades for First Blade to copulate with so all his running around was in vain and First Blade grew ever more agitated and distraught and frustrated and desperate and ruttish and in the end fell over in a green little heap of unfulfilled yearning where he lay quivering and moaning and making ever sadder sounds of frustration and discomfort.”
Again, she pauses. Again, no takers. Secretly, I think, she is pleased that we are too captivated by her story to remember. She continues:
“The Blade Divine, now feeling sorry for First Blade breaks the spell and First Blade heaves a long, long sigh of relief and leans back into the soft earth and says,” (and here she dons her First-Blade voice again) “What on earth was that?”
“That, my dear First Blade,” says the Blade Divine, “was sex.”
“No thank you very much,” says First Blade. “I’ll choose rooted any day of the week.”
“Wise choice,” says the Blade Divine.
“Wise choice,” says the field, suddenly remembering to echo.
And we have been rooted ever since. But I cannot help but wonder: how bad could it have been? I mean, for First Blade to change his mind just like that. From no contest in roaming’s favor to no way on earth if that’s the price tag? It must have been pretty awful, that sex thing. Then again, First Blade is not considered the wisest blade to ever have lived for no reason, and it is him that we have to thank for our tranquil—though admittedly stationary—lives.
We are, of course, not the only lives rooted. Flowers are, too. Trees as well. Brush and mushrooms and moss and blueberries. All live tranquil lives wondering at the roaming hustle and bustle of rut in spring when semen-loaded males of hordes of species fight each other (sometimes—oftentimes— even to the death) for the right to deposit some or all of their semen with some taker of their kind.
Humans, I hear, are in rut 24/7/365(6 – in leap years). I pity them.
No wonder they fight so much.