Speaking In Tongues
Guided by Voices

Dan Markovitch

Something Happened

Translated by Darcy Paquet

It was obvious that the former residents didn't grow anything in the two wooden boxes by the window either, and there was almost no soil left - blown out and washed by rain - with some protruding grey grass that the wind carried in by chance. It grew up vigorously and then died, leaving dry crisp stems, it was dusted with snow and then again in spring this obstinate grass appeared. It continued on such for many years, but one day, in the very corner of the box, where there was almost no soil at all, a thin yellow sprout pushed up and began to grow. A bud grew out of it and a flower unfurled, an orange, tender and rather large one. I looked upon it with astonishment, but it stood there independently amongst that wild grass, not giving way to anything and inexplicably holding its own. Cold set in, but it still remained. And the grass had already lain down, in the morning it was covered by frost, yet the flower remained alive. I grew frightened for it, but there was no way to help it, it just stood on its own. One morning I glanced through the window - and the flower had died. I felt badly, but it had grown up in an awful spot, and even on a better spot it couldn't have grown bigger... But the following year it was here once again, and again it bloomed, again it was knocked over by the wind and freezing rain, and then an early snow fell - burying it... Perhaps I should dig up everything, so that it won't bloom and torture itself further? But I couldn't, I left everything as it was... And on the third year it sprouted, but I traveled much that year and was rarely home. I'd arrive home in the darkness, look out the window and see it there, its petals looking black in the darkness, but it was alive. There was a lot of rain then, it had enough water, but was this really the place for it, in this desert... In the fall it once again began to perish, it suffered and I anguished over it each day, and every morning I awaited its death like a deliverance. At last it died. But the following year it didn't sprout. The grass grew to its full height, summer passed, the rain began - but no flower. The frosts struck suddenly, the leaves curled into little scrolls, but the frosts held, of the grass there remained only thin but firm skeletons, which did not give in to the wind... but no flower... Something happened...