Friday, November 2, 2007


I know there's a word for it, can anyone think of it? The phenomenon is when you suddenly come across two or more instances of something unusual and impute to it something more than coincidence. I first became across this phenomenon when I was ten or twelve and noticed in a single day three separate dogs in different parts of the city that had those big plastic cones they put around a dog's head to stop them from chewing on stitches or a wound. I hadn't seen one of those for years and then spotted three in a day.

Likewise, last night I am sampling some Robert Frost poems and came across Locked Out.

Locked Out
As told to a child
by Robert Frost

When we locked up the house at night,
We always locked the flowers outside
And cut them off from window light.
The time I dreamed the door was tried
And brushed with buttons upon sleeves,
The flowers were out there with the thieves.
Yet nobody molested them!
We did find one nasturtium
Upon the steps with bitten stem.
I may have been to blame for that:
I always thought it must have been
Some flower I played with as I sat
At dusk to watch the moon down early.

What caught my eye was the line "We did find one nasturtium" and thinking to myself, you don't see that word often and I don't think I have ever seen it in a poem. Nasturtium is Latin for nose twister.

Then this morning, I am rereading Rosemary Wells' Wingwalker and come across:

"Your Father has dreams on the side, Reuben," my mother told me. She and I were planting nasturtiums in the center of a tire painted white.

Now what are the odds, and how would you even reckon them, of coming across nasturtiums at random, twice in the space of twenty-four hours?

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