poinciana

2

Jamaican Plant :: ROYAL POINCIANA TREE (Delonix regia) is native to Madagascar. The brilliant red blooms of this tree are so spectacular, it’s also known in some Latin American countries as the Flamboyant or Flame tree. If you have a large yard, the Poinciana is a wonderful shade tree with its unique feathery leaves. The Poinciana is perfect for Jamaica’s subtropical coastal area: it is drought and salt tolerant. It usually blooms between May and July. | Photo taken at Goldeneye Hotel & Resort

[Sidenote: This tree might just be the national tree of Spanish Town apart from Common Mango Tree].

NOTHING NATURAL by Diana Hurlburt

They call him Prosper, a measure of mockery for each measure of awe.

-

You know the road to the laboratory blind, could walk it in your sleep—have, because sleepwalking is telltale of the godborn, so your mother says and touches your ankle in rare affection where it rests on the porch rail, one foot on the earth and one in the realm of spirits.

“Spirits,” she repeats, gesturing to the road below, the spindly pine woods and the yellow haze of heat and pollution that makes up your horizon. “He controls the spirits.”

There are no spirits, only neighbors: Men and women and half-made machines given to rust, the detritus of civilization. A plot of bloodless jackdaws, midway between flophouse and refugee camp. You know that part of her statement, at least, is true. The weak and weak-willed, the dying, the once-dead, the discarded and useless, the flagrant all require direction. Seek strength. Are used by those stronger.

Sicaria laughs and makes her crooked cross, murmurs her oblique prayer.

“Get out,” she tells you in sudden rage, “go to your master. Get out of my sight, you unworthy and unclean thing, you who have forsaken the ways of God, you who cleave to the machines. Your eyes see only falsehood.”

-

It is fifteen years since your mother was cast out. It is your lifetime that has been spent in wasteland, the between-place, the unplace beyond the pale. It is a pine island that shelters you, a fanatic who raises you, a scientist who uses your hands and your back and his daughter who considers your mind.

Your mind. You know you have one. All creatures do, born or made. It is the First Law of Being.

Your name. If Sicaria gave you one it has been lost. It was only after Prosper’s carelessness that anyone else tried—his accident in the lab, though he would never call it that, surely you were at fault, your clumsy hands too broad for fine work and your elbows always in the way. Acid scattered from a flask, droplets caught in sun. You did not scream; it wasn’t the worst pain you had felt. In the washroom Miranda’s hands were gentle, washing, salving. They slowed after the initial motions and your pulse followed. You examine your two faces in the mirror. If you had ever displayed beauty it was gone now, Miranda’s heightened by your face now scarred. Her luminosity beyond the human and your coarseness, a sun and its shadow.

Her hand stayed on your cheek after its necessity had lapsed. She traced the remnants of acid, specks and splotches, long fingers black and velvet like the touch of night. You believe her grasp could shift moons from their orbit.

“Calvaluna,” she said, a cantrip reshaping your vision of yourself. “I read it somewhere—where? I have never read a book. I don’t need to, Father put his knowledge into my head before he activated me. But I hear it.” She tapped her forehead, then yours. “I hear it. It means you. It suits you. Calvaluna.”

It was prettier than you, you knew that, a beautiful name. Prettier than most things. Not prettier than her.

-

When Prosper leaves the laboratory it is less a retirement for the evening and more retreat. He would never call it that but you believe him fearful, after all. The powerful always are. He swings himself like a cudgel upon exit, he shouts for Miranda to attend him and cuffs you, a passing blow, thoughtless. Brutality is his lever, rarely compassion.

You know his laboratory better than he does, you think, wiping down counters. You know his daughter, made in his own image but ultimately fathomless. There’s a phrase in Sicaria’s Bible that makes you quiver when you apply it to Miranda.

It is full dark when Miranda comes for you. Your laboratory is Prosper’s in miniature, piecemeal and theft-built, squirreled away in a shed in the woods south of the pine island on which the best of the unplace’s hovels are built.

“It was a citrus packing house,” Miranda says as she always does. Touches the frame of the door right and then left, stretches to her full height to brush its top. It’s a ritual the way your mother’s prayers are, her prostrations, her rages. “Before the Laws took effect there was an industry here. Fruit. Citrus fruit.” She looks at you, a delight on her face that would fire the darkness. “Can you imagine it, Calvaluna? Whole stands of trees with fruit on them. Wild fruit, just growing. Imagine taking fruit off a tree and eating it.”

Your imagination is not that good.

She goes to the single table in the laboratory and stands before it in a manner you’ve thought must be like that of the Israelites in the Holy of Holies. You are not supposed to know what that means. You are not supposed to have holiness in your life. She looks at you briefly, with mischief, and draws down the shroud you have used to protect the R.E.L.’s shell from rain.

“I think we’re close,” she says. Her eyes are fascinated, distracted; her hand reaches for you. “Come here, Calvaluna, tell me if this is calibrated properly.”

“You have your father’s knowledge,” you say. But you go and look at the R.E.L. with her. You’re proud of the effort, the work of your joined hands. You are not supposed to have pride, either. There is no pride in being raised beyond the pale. In being the offspring of a hanged woman, a witch they would have called her in days past, a lawbreaker too iconoclastic to be allowed in the city and too ineffectual to be executed, spared for her belly to the tune of mockery. Certainly there is no pride in your form or your face.

“I think he’s almost ready to revive,” Miranda says. Her joy is the only light in these woods. The sun exists, you know, in theory. Miranda’s face is your only evidence thus far, fifteen years alive and far from those spaces left which thrive in natural sunlight. She links her fingers in yours, her thumb rubs the calluses on your palm; she points with your hands to the R.E.L.’s blank and staring eyes, his half-human head, his chest with its missing heart and its new core of wires. “Oh, Calvaluna! I’m nervous. Are you nervous?”

Nervous is not the right word for what you are.

-

“Calvaluna,” Sicaria repeated the day you told her of Miranda’s gift. She scraped the tip of her ritual knife between her teeth, grinning. “An appropriate name for you, my aborted dream. I should have exposed you as a sacrifice to God.”

There is no god but human will. This is the Second Law of Being.

-

Your fellow-spirits are all will-bound to Prosper’s caprice. He makes the cogs of the community turn, greases the paths of food and potable water and herbs plucked at the witching hour that make life slightly less… life-like. Thus he is obeyed.

“Daughter,” Sicaria echoes. She spits at the trash heap beside the back gate. “Blasphemy. Blasphemy. Such words I hear from your lips, my burden. Who was it gave you speech, that you fling curses in my face? I think maybe you’re the worse for your time spent in that man’s house. I see you confuse craft for birth.” She broods, her fingers twitching at the strand of beads beneath her wrapper. “But there’s no more to be done. How else are we to live?”

Once, and only once, you suggested that perhaps her god might see to living arrangements, if she did not like how you were turning out under Prosper’s tutelage.

“Go.” She waves to the wood path. “I heard tell there was meat today.”

If there was meat to be had, you suspect it’s long gone now. Your fellow-spirits are avaricious. What have they but base pleasures?

“He’s in a gloom,” Miranda says, her face round and open as a poinciana pod. “He’s made me clean the laboratory twice over, and asked me to cook… something. I didn’t recognize it, Calvaluna. Lentil soup? What is a lentil, do you know?”

You know of lentils.

“You can’t make lentil soup,” you tell her. “He shouldn’t ask you to do things he knows are impossible.”

“He believes anything is possible,” she says. You love and hate to see her countenance. You remember a time when she would have spoken the same words in hope and affection. You know it is your fault, the way she is changing, her will a canker on the face of beauty. You wonder what Prosper will do when he realizes it. You ponder in the night, sometimes, this scholar whose eyes perceive all but the truth.

Perhaps you will be gone before he awakens.

“Race me,” Miranda says, but she takes your hand.

“How am I to race if you keep me beside you?”

“A race doesn’t have to have a winner,” she says, and begins to run.

She times these things impeccably. She runs so that you can almost believe the light follows her footsteps, that she leaves no mark on the earth. Dusk springs up behind you. You prefer night, its honesty; you prefer the real dark that would cover most of your world if not for artificial day. The unplace is a hive of night creatures. Your fellow-spirits are easiest perceived in dimness, their proclivities hidden and their countenances smoothed.

Miranda keeps your hand in hers and runs, runs, fearless and laughing. She runs like a dart flung toward the center of the south woods, the pine cloven by lightning looming over your laboratory. The pine grows despite the wound at its heart. It is where you found the R.E.L.—one of Prosper’s cast-offs, what he termed a failed experiment—half-dead and crumbling piecemeal to rust in dank rainfall.

She drops to the base of the pine and pulls you down and points up.

“I know of stars,” she says, her eyes searching as though Heaven might reveal itself. “The Southern Cross, the Swan. The Pleiades. Many more names my father gave me.” She touches her forehead, as she does when she speaks of Prosper’s knowledge, planted in her like seed corn. She is godborn more surely than you can ever be, gleaming divinity. She touches your forehead, your cheeks, the tip of your nose. “I think they must look like you. The stars beyond our sky.”

She traces the scars and specks and splotches. She draws new constellations and names them, her fingers a warm trail on your skin, her breath a promise.

-

Just once you asked your mother if you would ever leave the unplace. You did not then understand that no one came to the salt-strewn plots of land on the city’s outskirts by choice—no one laid eyes on the pine island and thought, I am home. It is far more difficult to leave a place you have not happened upon by choice.

“He’ll be a protector,” you say, pliers in one hand and cording in the other. “His new code will require defense. Otherwise…”

You look at Miranda and think of what might happen to her if the R.E.L.’s defensive code does not run as planned. You picture yourself and remember Sicaria’s dark jibes, her reminiscences of city life. You rub your upper arm where the contraceptive block had been implanted. It only prevents some things, can halt neither the heady mix of desire and aspiration nor flat violence.

“Defense,” Miranda says, her face solemn in its thinking pose, unaware of your thoughts. “Defense, financials, new birth records and identification…”

Her voice skips along, almost merry, a fertile stream in which to seed possibility.

-

The Third Law of Being is the inviolability of life. No one has ever explained to you whether the Law covers all life.

-

Light explodes behind your eyes when Prosper’s hand meets your skull. Or, you realize a little belatedly, it is the fault of the lab table, the edge of it kissing your temple. Air rushes from your lungs. You stare at the vault above the shed in the woods, its ceiling gaping in sections to reveal leaves, the white sky of noon.

Miranda flies at him, her face dressed in horror. You have never kissed her, you think. You would prefer not to die unkissed; you’d prefer not to die at all.

“Ungrateful wretch,” Prosper says. “Twisted ape-child, spawn of—how thought you?” He smashes his hand across the table. “How thought you to betray my kindness? To turn my own blood against me?” He lifts one of the R.E.L.’s arms, almost delicately. “Whore and daughter of whores. Thief.”

Small comfort to think his rage stems from fear, but it’s enough. Prosper would not be angry if he didn’t believe the R.E.L. was sound.

“You.” He points to Sicaria in the doorway. One of your fellow-spirits has fetched her at his command and she is in a state, white-eyed and gagging on anger. “Take your mooncalf in hand, I never want to see her again. Corruptor.”

He catches Miranda and snares her arms, wrenches her close, covers her head with his hands as though she is innocent. As though healing and reviving the R.E.L. were not her idea. As though a child can be born of only one parent. The R.E.L. is your inheritance, legacy of unnatural issue, a being greater than the sum of its creators.

“This abomination will be destroyed,” Prosper says. Sicaria prays in the doorway, her eyes not on you nor on the R.E.L. but searching, seeking. She hates the sight of machines. Had the city not cast her out for improper worship she would have repudiated them anyway.

“He is an R.E.L.,” Miranda says. You stare despite the throb in your head, the blood in your eyes. Her voice remains soft, wondering, a caress on the cyborg’s clinical name. Aerial, a creature of movement and possibility. “Robotically Enhanced Lifeform. Give him his name, Father, lend some pity, even if you thought nothing of flinging him into the trash when he failed to serve you.”

“Abomination,” he repeats. “Homunculus, deformity—daughter. Listen. Calvaluna has done wrong in her ignorance but you… you are not ignorant, Miranda.”

You marvel at the blindness of the learned man, the man cast out for his learned ways, the man who has made the wilderness blossom in decay. Lord of chaos, king of the misruled.

“God be with me in this hour,” Sicaria prays, her hands on either side of the doorframe. “God be with me in my pain, God give me strength for the task before me, God grant me…”

Me, you mouth. God be with Sicaria, and science with Prosper, and neither passionate belief nor dispassionate prowess sustain them. Miranda looks at you from beneath her father’s hands. Her smile is your signpost, her trust your life raft. Your fellow-spirits are like unto you only in substance: Crude matter, blunt usefulness. Miranda is your true equal, beloved of your soul. Her eyes remain open.

Your eyes must remain open. You must get up. There are but two steps between you and the table, one step in the scientific process, a bare nudge of your fingers at the master switch. Miranda’s being is in your hands.

On the table, the R.E.L. casts off slumber and rattles to life.

brobuscipan-12  asked:

Favorite plant and why

cactus because they’re a lot like me.
-Anxiety

What? They threatening on the outside and soft on the inside? *laughs* okay I love little succulent plants I just think they look amazing!
-Morality

I love Royal poinciana because of how wonderful the colours are.
-Prince

Wisteria is a personal favourite I’m not sure why *shrugs*
-Logic

Being back in New York means...

Finding a guy I can be interested in for more than 3 seconds. I mean I live in a city of models and hot people so why haven’t I met anybody yet? I’m also spending a month upstate for school and there might be a diamond in the rough among those suburban boys. And then I’m heading to Poinciana, Florida. I’m still not sure if people actually live there or if it’s just a neighborhood of abandoned houses and I’ve been going there almost every summer. Here’s to finding a cutie patootie this summer.