Passion Flower

The other day, as I was walking the dog down to the river after a torrential morning thunderstorm, I happened to take a look in the kudzu that covers the hill on College St. behind the big white house that used to be Riverhill Antiques, and I saw several bedraggled passion flower blossoms.

I was glad to see them, though they had little of the almost alien beauty the flower usually holds; they were still recognizable from the violet fronds and the yellow stamens. They had stood up to the pounding rain, but even more than that, they had survived human attempts to wipe them out (doubtlessly unintentional).

Several years ago, I had identified the flowers a little further down the block, where now there is a well manicured parking lot. Then, the lot had a small creek (now subterranean) bushes, brambles, kudzu, spider wort, and passion flower. I had seen badgers down in the creek on a few occasions. It was a small patch of wild within the city, so I was saddened when bulldozers began leveling the lot and rooting up small trees and bushes. The culverts that channeled the creek underground, seemed a travesty. Now the lot is asphalt and grass that is watered by automatic sprinklers and undoubtedly fertilized and sprayed with herbicides. No dandelions, no spider wort, no passion flowers.

Looking for an image to put with this post, I learned that Passion Flower can be used to treat anxiety and insomnia. It has been thought to have a calming influence. I can’t speak as an herbalist, but just seeing these flowers had that influence on me. As we head into a new semester (today was our first day of meetings), I may need a good dose now and then, so I’m glad to know where to find them. I don’t plan on picking them or making tea or a potion from them — I would need to learn a lot more about it before I did — but as long as they are in bloom, I may seek them out whenever I need a little lift.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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