Sunday, April 20, 2008

the purpose of grass

the purpose

It took forever to find the true purpose of grass. Not to fill the vast space of one's garden, to cover up the yards and yards of dismal dirt. No, not simply to please the eye, or to generate envy in one's neighbours with one's pristine living carpet of green. This is to grossly oversimplify. This is to sell short that leafy blanket of flora. This, my friends, is to be mistaken. The true purpose of grass is to provide a soft runway for steamrolling down a hill on a hot summer's day. To catch warm drops of summer rain. To tickle the tender toes of children.

Don't ever forget this.

the near miss

As a young man in Paris, Samuel Beckett was stabbed in the chest by a pimp and nearly killed. The long, silver blade, narrowly missing Beckett's heart, punctured a lung, and left Beckett lying on the cool, green, nighttime grass, coughing and bleeding out from a hole in his chest.

One romanticised story has a piano student named Suzanne coming to the aid of the young author as he lay dying under the cold eye of the moon. Another, more probable, if not slightly less dramatic story, is that this Suzanne visited Beckett in the hospital after reading about it in the papers. Either way, she helped him through a rough time.

His assailant's name was Prudent. His saviour became his wife.

casual acquaintance

My fingertips met hers, worming their way through the cool slender blades of grass, our minds abuzz with the beginnings of a psilocybin trip. Our tongues still thick with the mouldy flavour of rotten mushrooms. Our eyes afuzz, veiled by the gauzy light of the moon.

“Why do we do this?” she asked. “Why do we poison our bodies and minds. Why do we poison our thoughts with these...” And she trailed off, lost in thought.

“Our own reasons,” I replied. “We each have our own reasons for this exploration. Me, I'm a biology student. The interaction between this hallucinogenic crystalline solid and my own body's chemical make-up intrigues. Psilocybe mexicana. I wait for it, counting out the formula in my head: C12, H17, N2, O4, P. Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorous. Is this not a good enough reason?”

“I guess,” she sighed. “Me, I suppose I do it to find the answers to important questions. Questions like: which number is greater? The amount of grass blades in this park, or the number of sand grains beneath that swing set over there. I suppose I do it to find meaning in the lyrics of a particular Billie Holiday song.”

Ooh, ooh, ooh/What a little moonlight can do.


Abuse: a noun used to describe bad or improper treatment. For example, the systematic maltreatment of a wife or husband, either physically or mentally. One child's bullying torment of another on the playground. Self-abuse, that primitive cutting or burning; trichotillomania – the pulling out of one's own hair; the childish tantrums, punching or scratching one's self. Abuse: the treatment of anyone or anything that is seen as harmful.

Bored, little Jake crawled through the grass tearing out handful after handful of the lush, green vegetation, giggling maniacally as he threw each handful over his shoulder before moving onto the next. Shorn blades of grass, scattered in the wind, left to dry and yellow under the hot sun. Countless silent cries. Thousands of tiny souls flying heavenward.

To the grass, this was a holocaust.


A blade of grass never asks for what purpose was it created. It knows. It exists as part of a lawn to be the most versatile piece of furniture. To scratch the back of a rolling dog. To catch a smile. It exists to persuade the soil to stay where it is, and to sway in the wind when it's allowed to grow long.

Yes, the purpose of grass is to make us wonder at its purpose, and to be the plaything of near misses, casual acquaintances, and monsters – and to turn from green to blue under the wan light of the pale moon.

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