The first time the Juniper Bush spake unto Krispin, he was a-crouched amongst the bracken, unburdening his daily intestinal compilement of waste matter. As Krispin was wont to do whilst engaged in such ruminative severance, he was conversing a-loud as if to a projected wiser double of himself, whom in turn answers his troubled queries with sage assurances.
[Krispin1: Auf! Tha young Lundburger lass be lookin gooood! Why, ah’d lak to bend the naughty girl over m’knee for some righteous spankin’ . . .
Krispin2: Peace, warrior! Bear in mind the auspices of her father, Lord Lundburger. . .
Krispin1: Egad! But the ripen’d melons . . . ! the throb of budding fertility . . .!
Krispin2: Hold, ye! Wha would Betsy say?
Krispin1: . . .
Krispin2: You know the consequences of betrayal. You bear yet the marks of rolling pin pon your hind parts even today . . .
And so forth]
Today Krispin is concerned with the topick of love.
“Tain’t nuttin like the fruits of love, ooweeeouuu! love [sniff. . .] why, tis in the air! agh, spring! when ah’m done here, why, ah’ll pick that sprig of clover down yonder, and present it unto Betsy, make her feel like a young un’ agin. she’ll squeal like a gawdammed pig when i set to her with such manly vigor . . . maybe ah’ll even . . .”
Whereupon the Juniper Bush spoke:
“Have you ever been in love? It’s not the most pleasant experience in the world. It’s full of jealousy and pain and heart-rending sorrow.”
Krispin, assuming that it is his customary counterpart, answers: “Naw then, I member Betsy first time I took her back o’ the barn. Tha first kiss, truculent in the wondrous devilry of it all. I almost shudder to think of the magic we made then, in that hay–we didn’t even remove our clothing. . . and yet, so deep, this shuddering. . . ”
The Juniper Bush coughs, not all too politely. “Scuse me, Nightingale, but this ‘Love’? What is it? Love is Great! Love is the Ultimate! But do you understand what love really entails?”
Krispin, realizing that his conversational partner is growing confrontational past any self-induced bounds, that indeed, he is speaking to some Other Entity, tries frenziedly to speed his bowel movements and prepare for escape. “Who . . .Jimmy, ye mother fucker, is tha you?!”
“I have a theory, see. I think that love is a conspiracy. I think that love is a myth. I think that love is a simulation devised to pull the wool over your eyes and the rug out from under you. A fantastickal matrix of false information.”
Krispin, straining desperately to release a reticent load, “Love is . . . Love is the greatest thing in Juggland! Ah’m the first to trumpet the virtues of warfare, sure! Ah love to butcher and slash m’way to victory, berserk with dopamine just as much as th’ next lad! . . . .Uggnnggh! . . . But Love . . . in Valhalla, surely, all is Love. The ideal, the true connection in humanly relations. . . . Mmmph!. . . .Without Love . . .”
“Without love, what is the world but death and struggle?” the Juniper Bush asks, dryly, “Let’s be honest here. We live in a world where death is all around us. We’re always killing each other. We’re always killing ourselves. There is nowhere we can go to escape this reality. Except, of course, to succumb to death itself. Is this your love?”
Herein Krispin grows righteously angry at being thus addressed: “Who’s there?! Ah’m trying to peacefully relieve m’self of fecal truncations, like a good citizen . . . It’s not polite. . . Gawddammit, it’s not proper to address me whilst ah am so affianced . . .”
“I’m a juniper bush. Over here, see the fronds a-waving. It’s not so very polite to be shitting on my property, and then propounding the tenets of an Ideal you don’t fully comprehend.”
Krispin contemplates this. “Well, ah guess ah can’t argue with that one. I apologize for the intrudence. Pray, continue with your philosophizing, goodly bush, as ah finish up with me business here.”
“Ahem. The descent into love is the donning of blinders. The slickness of syrup coating the tongue. Synthetic. Mimetic. It is an illusion, a fantasy. And what makes it all so amazing is that the concept was not created by some invisibly structured higher order of beings . . . no, it was formulated by YOU . . . you, digging your head into the wing of
society. Save me, you cried, save me from myself. But let us examine this ‘love.’ What is love? Love is vulnerability. Love is exposing your weaknesses. Love is always letting someone else win. And this, this is a good thing?”
Krispin sits erect momentarily, “Nooo!” he trumpets.
“Love means giving yourself to others at the expense of yourself. Love means letting someone else have power over you. Love means that you are needy. Love means that you are weak. Is this what you are?”
Krispin’s eyes a-gleam. “Gawdam, nooo!”
“We keep talking about freedom, as if freedom is the meaning of love, a right to exist, something ideally we all share. No, i tell you, freedom is not a right, it’s something you earn. It’s something you fight for.”
“Dam right, ain’t tha the truth! Ah earned me right to fair pickins in the mess hall!”
“The process of maturation is the process of forming your own space in the world. This is not a peaceful process. It is violent. Your body undergoes metamorphosis. You consume–you produce waste.”
“True nuff. But stay a minute. What exactly does a Juniper Bush know of love?”
The J.B. seems to sag a bit. “I loved an apple tree, once.”
“Nearly withered away over it. The tree was felled by a bolt of lightening one night. But don’t try to reduce my understanding to such sentimental precepts.”
“Of course not, ” Krispin soothes the bush, “Why, ah believe ah’ve completed my mission here, out in these woods here today. Ah feel ten pounds lighter, like ah could float away upon these winds. . . ”
“See, changing the subject. Always trying to run away from the brutal nature of love. Love is nothing pretty, I’m warning you. So when you use the words, do not use them lightly. If there’s one thing you’ve learned from me, let it be this: love is not anything you could ever want. Love is not anything you could ever desire. It is a burden. Fair thee well, soldier. Remember my words. . . ”
” . . . If there’s one thing ah’ve learned, it’s tha freakin bushes can tractate even more than a preacher. . .”
“I heard that!”
This was not the first, nor the last time the Juniper Bush held conference
with a Jugglander . . . .