Submitted to MS World, July 2011
E pluribus Unum, from the Great Seal of the United States, “Out of many, one.” If my high school Latin were not so rusty, I would know the Latin for “out of two, one,” which is what has happened on our front lawn. If I were a poet, this would be a poem, a poem having to do with marriage, with our own, interracial marriage. It might have become a poem for America.
Tina and I bought this lake-side home eleven years ago. We wanted a pretty location, as her multiple sclerosis had already progressed to the point where traveling was difficult, likely to become more difficult still, as it did. One lovely feature was a string of a half-dozen Rose of Sharon bushes that had been long established along one edge of the lawn. When they bloom, it is spectacular.
About a year after we settled in, my youngest brother, Chris, and his wife, Nicola, visited us with their two children. Nicola is a transplant to America from England. Tina is a transplant to America from China. For their first visit, they brought us and planted for us a small lilac bush, which has grown tall and strong in the ensuing ten years. Its fragrant and handsome blooms come at a different time of year, “lilac time,” from the Rose of Sharon flowers.
Last year I noticed something unusual: a small Rose of Sharon plant was growing up within the lilac bush, shielded by and cuddling that bush. The fertilized seeds from the Rose of Sharon plants had become airborne and then captured by the lilac, falling to the ground and germinating where they had landed. In some sense there were two plants, different varieties, there. In another sense, the two had become one.
As a metaphor for marriage, I like it very much, Tina and I are one. Chris and Nicola are one. From two, one.
As a metaphor for a diverse society’s harmony, it works, too. “Out of many, one.” E pluribus Unum.