You Have No Idea How High I Am

Columnist grows to appreciate another kind of weed

Legend has it that Emily Dickinson perched amid lilacs while writing her poems, including the one with this sexy line: "The Lilacs--bending many a year--will sway with purple load." And T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land famously began, "April is the cruelest month...." Forgotten, though, is the rest of that line, which is "...breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain."

Me: Thank you, Gary Google. Now allow me to impart the true power of lilacs. Unlike your hoary laundry list, these are all original to me: Lilacs are the elixir of the unconscious. Lilacs make a merman out of me. You say, "Stop and smell the roses"; I say, "Stop and smell the lilacs."

Him: Very memorable. I'll alert Google. In the meantime, Galway Kinnell's poem St. Francis and the Sow begins thusly: "The bud stands for all things, even those things that don't flower, for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing; though sometimes it is necessary to re-teach a thing its loveliness."

James O'Brien

Me: Nice, but I still can't get my head out of the gutter. Shouldn't we be focusing on something more important?

Him: Well, Manet was as serious a man as they come, and at the end of his life, all he wanted to do was paint flowers. Two of his most famous paintings are White Lilacs and Lilacs in a Vase. The breakup country ballad "Green Grow the Lilacs" was sung by cowboys in south Texas, and one story has it that Mexicans who heard it wafting over the border thought the cowboys were singing "gringo." could say that lilacs were responsible for the first dialogue between Mexicans and Americans, and, in a sense, for the concept we now call "diversity."

Me: Dude, you are so high.

Him: Take another hit, my brother. Winter will be here before you know it.

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or

« Previous Page