The Poppy

On the road side grew a poppy. It grew all by itself, slender and graceful with it's delicate, bright red petals.
Between golden corn-fields and the poppy were a ditch and a hedgerow. Many other poppies grew in the cornfield, but the poppy by the road side never knew this. It never knew anything at all.

The poppy could only wave to the people who travelled along the road. And although it fluttered like a fragile little flag, and bowed graciously, hardly anyone noticed it.

During the early summer season more and more people passed along the road. They travelled in vehicles of various sizes and colours, some noisier than others. By then the poppy had already become covered with dusty grime.
All about it litter was carelessly strewn. There was a litter-bin, but it was overfilled, and surrounded with plastic bags, bits of egg shell, orange peel and scraps of newspaper. There were plastic bottles, beer-cans, banana skins, cigarette butts, broken glass, bits of tyre and oily rags. It was very unpleasant for the poppy.

When things got even worse, the poor flower was unable to hold its head up. It drooped dejectedly as though it had lost all hope in the sun, the earth and life itself.
It seemed inevitable that the lonely poppy was doomed, and there, sadly, we must leave it.

In the cornfield on the other side of the hedgerow, everything appeared to be so much brighter for the large colony of poppies that grew there so healthily. They flashed their rich, red glow between the countless, tall, green and golden stems. They blissfully beamed and bobbed their heads as though they were all very pleased with themselves.

The owner of the cornfield was as thrifty as most farmers have to be. In his field he was determined to grow as much corn as he possibly could. In order to do this he had to get rid of everything frustaneous, even though he had no idea what the word meant. The large stones, the old tree roots, the weeds and even the poppies had to go. It all happened so quickly. The whole colony was taken totally unawares, which is not surprising, but nevertheless just as well.

On the other side of the hedgerow important people had decided that the road should be widened. For this the ditch would be filled and the bank would be levelled. It would all be steam-rolled flat, covered with gravel, thickly coated with tar, then embellished on the side near the hedgerow with an endless, perfectly parallel, yellow stripe.
The people came with heavy machines and started by filling the ditch, then they tore away the banks of earth and everything with it. The poor little poppy, squeezed amongst mountainous clods of soil, weeds and rubbish, was reduced to a squashed, red speck somewhere deep down within the gigantic, grim and grumbling lorry load.

The lorry eventually rumbled away, and one might think that it would be a merciful end for the poppy. The lorry arrived at an isolated place where it dumped its load on a mound that gradually sloped down into a large quarry.

Summer showers sprayed and smoothed the earth warmed by the sun.
Then one fine day, as if by magic, high on the bank of the slope, the poppy reappeared. Not only had it survived, it grew more elegant and beautiful than ever before.

As if by similar enchantment, other poppies emerged too. Soon the whole slope was a blaze of shimmering scarlet. They were all comfortably installed in their own private poppy bed. And when the sun smiled down they raised their delicate heads up to the most eminent poppy that grew so serenely above them.

They were never disturbed, not for a long long while, but they were often admired by people like you and me.  

    Originally written . 1985 .  Revised . 2013
Text and vignette © Mirino (PW) May, 2013

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