Avondale Greenwoman

by Tim Gilmore, 11/12/2022

She withstands my supplication, this Art Deco bas relief outside the flower shop.

On this 3600 block of St. Johns Avenue, at this 1920s Mission-style stucco shopfront, I look her in the eyes. Medusa. Truth is, I see no snakes in her hair, but I do discern grapes, which are more to the point.

For she’s no Gorgon at all, anymore than she’s original to this building designed by architects Marsh and Saxelbye a century ago. Yet she’s older, a Greenwoman, a goddess of the harvest, androgyne, a Dionysiac, the substratum beneath the Apollonian, as Friedrich Nietzsche, writing in The Twilight of the Gods in 1888, cast back to his first book, from 1872, The Birth of Tragedy: “Herewith I again stand on the soil out of which my intention, my ability grows — I, the last disciple of the philosopher Dionysus — I, the teacher of the eternal recurrence.”

It took the old man in me so long to die. That’s okay. I’m the new man today. Christianity could never kill Nature anyway.