Swabbing off a Ficus

The title of this post sounds sort of dirty if you don’t know the exact meanings of the words, or take them just as sound. Go swab a ficus, mate! In fact, the post title refers to the fact that I spent an hour this evening with cotton swabs & insecticidal soap swabbing the leaves of a favorite little fig tree. It’s about seven inches tall & probably has a hundred & fifty leaves, each about three quarters of an inch long. Looks like some spider mites have moved in, though the tree seems healthy & is putting out new spring foliage. This is the sort of process in which I can happily lose myself, which may seem strange, I admit. I’m not going to claim it’s a form of meditation or anything spacey like that. But I do enjoy focusing on small things. Even if I’m not working on one, I sometimes find myself staring at one of my trees, just focusing on the shape & structure of the branches, for minutes on end. The closest analogy I can think of is listening to music that I know well, following its shapes & textures. Swabbing is just a closer form of looking.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Humanities at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press (2001). He lives with his wife Carole, two Jack Russell terriers, Jett & Penny, & a Chocolate Lab, Angel, on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

2 thoughts on “Swabbing off a Ficus”

  1. Paul, with songs, I often hear/see the lines as “branches” with various twists & turns; music without lyrics, I tend to see as large solids that stand in various relations to each other.

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