I did not know we are flowers.
I didn’t know until after I sobbed most of the afternoon for the tiny body of a mouse.
I was in the garden and noticed the live trap I had put there to catch the voles that were eating my purple-sprouted broccoli and other greens. I was trying to catch it or them and move whomever it was out to a field, far from the garden. Instead, I caught and released about ten birds and two mice, each of them having eaten the peanut butter or bread I had left in the trap.
Today, though, as I was examining my broccoli and muttering to myself about the voles, I saw that the live trap was closed. There was a small figure curled in the corner. Horrified, for the weather had been windy and wet and cold, and I had not thought I left the trap open in that kind of weather, for I did not want what happened to happen, I raced over. I opened the trap and removed a small mouse in the corner of the cage, curled into a tight ball. He was cold and stiff, his nose pink, his underside a soft white. I could tell he had been trying to protect himself from the weather.
I did not mean to hurt him, leave him exposed, or cause him to die. I did not mean for him to suffer. He was so small.
I picked him up and held him in my cupped palms, thinking that perhaps if I could warm him, he would revive.
It was too late.
I carried him to the house, not yet ready to give up but also not sure what to do. And then, after I had examined his tiny feet, his small form, soft fur, and little ears, I took him back outside. I placed him under a bush, a protected, safe place as if he were still alive. I asked him to forgive me.
And then I thought about mushrooms. I had gone on a hike the previous weekend with a group of people exploring mushrooms and River, the person who organized the hike, the person who knew about mushrooms, was talking about how the mushrooms are the fruits of a vast subterranean body of mycorrhizal.
My mind opened, and I realized that we are, each of us, fruits of something much larger. And though it can be excruciatingly painful to witness destruction and sometimes death, and though I have never been able to make sense of it, this world where we eat each other to survive, for even the plants tremble when they are about to be picked or see one of their brethren plucked from the ground.
And so, a tiny bit of awakening occurred for me, that we are each a flower. Just like mushrooms are the flowers of a vast underground network.
I killed a flower today. I did not mean to. This day has been carried by grief. And I can only think about our world with so much destruction, so much pain, so much innocence that does not deserve to suffer.
I am glad to know that the larger part of that flower still lives. That is the gift the little mouse gave to me.