This morning I woke up dreaming of a garden. The scene unfolded calm and dreamlike. Shafts of milky sunlight illuminated flowers blowing in a light breeze, and intuitively, I knew it was the end of summer. I could feel and see the movement of every petal and blade of grass in such an intimate manner -the sounds of life, heightened almost deafening. Behind me, the figure of my grandmother,  her head bent modestly –  an errant lock of  dark hair caressing her right eye (as always). I detected the faint smell of lilacs and egg white from her warm, white skin. She explains to me how it is that the poppies grow.  After,  she points to the yarrow growing at her feet and tells me not to forget its healing qualities. Her words are only rhythm, like listening to a babbling brook of water gliding over stone. I understand everything and nothing at the same time.

Why is my grandmother here on this day of remembrance? On this day, September 11th –  I am in a space where I find myself  wishing to move on.  Yes,  I will say a prayer for the dead –  but let me go, let’s all go further than that one place of sorrow and shock.

She wants me to unlock the secret of the garden. How? I have no idea.

Grandmother was a witchy woman (she is crossing herself now, appalled that I would use this term to describe her faithful self) and she knew her herbs, the folklore wisdom of old Bosnia was deep inside her, as it was in her mother and grandmother, and the  great grandmother before her.

I go deeper to look for a  meaning.  I want to know why she is whispering to me in my sleep about Poppies. She had no great love for them.  Too bright and blazing. Red. Blood like.  But Yarrow, that grew abundantly around her house and in the fields in front of it.

Achillea Millefolium – the Yarrow. She used to bring back bunches of it and spread it on newspaper on the kitchen table to dry along with other roots and stalks from her walks. From the dried pieces, she would make tinctures and pomades, wraps and powders. She wrote on a million tiny little pieces of white paper – abbreviated names indicating prescription & provenance. These were written in German but with Serbo Croatian accents over ‘sh’ and ‘ch’ sounds, as she was only patient with some things.  And not with others.

When we had bruises, stomach ache, head pain, cuts or fever she would rub and knead and administer with cloths or droppers her magic potions and heal us  until we were whole again.

As a young man, Achilles the famous soldier/hero of ancient times was schooled by Chiron the Centaur.  Chiron was versed in medicine and the healing arts and supposedly passed his powerful knowledge on to Achilles. In his turn, Achilles the leader/prince taught his troops to use yarrow flower to stop the bleeding and hemorrhaging of wounds received during their epic battles. Hence the Latin name for Yarrow: Achillea.

My mind is drifting…. Soldiers, Heroes, War, Magic, Wisdom.

I read wikipedia. Poppies live deep in our psyche as a symbol of sacrifice and memory. Somewhere there is a poem about fallen soldiers and poppies that spring up around their unmarked graves. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead and eventually by the Christians as a symbol of resurrection.

Red, Christ, Blood, Dreams.  Memories and Acceptance

Today  is not about mourning soldiers or wise men or herbologist Centaurs, I know.It’s about ordinary citizens on that day, the 11th of September, going about their business of life one minute … and then suddenly,  dead the next. I think about the dead in the city and the smokey skies and at the same time, I think about all the others too –  all the people caught in between…. in-between the ideologies and the fantasies, the dreams and the delusions.  I think about soldiers on foreign soil and how unbelievable that is, to me.  That men go far off to kill other men they do not know for reasons they can not explain.

Ordinary people going about their business of life one minute and then – suddenly – dead the next.

What were the words she whispered to me in the dream, the meaning of it all, the holy grail of everything,  the jumble of life, the hum of  death, war, peace, forgiveness..

the secret lost back into the gardens of the subconscious