Without Mud, There is No Lotus

What can live here but snakes and ravenous creatures, toothed beasts that quake.

Over the last 48 hours, I have sat with a notebook before me, a pen in hand, trying to gather my thoughts and adequately put those very thoughts into words on the page. And I have written, and some of it is rough around the edges, has fallen into ranting territory; and so I have marked through these lines. Other lines are more elegant, soft, peaceful. I want to write more, and perhaps I will. Perhaps I will share it if I can strike a tone that balances our humanity with the humanism we have so abandoned. Perhaps I will not. But until I do, whatever I decide, I offer this poem I wrote instead.

Without Mud, There is No Lotus

Without mud,
­sticky, thick, and earthen;
there can be no lotus flower
to rise from its murky depths,
of water foul and black—
festering, stagnant.
What can live here but snakes
and ravenous creatures,
toothed beasts that quake.
But here, too, the lotus lives,
ascending when the light of the morning casts high
each pedal unfolding,
her aroma rich and heady,
her intent not solely one of survival,
but also to thrive, in beauty unfettered.
Even her dormant seeds will take root—
in mud sticky, thick, and earthen.

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Photo: Deepak Adhikari. “lotus.” Licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated,, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.

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