A Flock of Grass

“The heads of grass”, we say, but is it so? A head is a height, a high point, so “head” is not so bad. Following this logic, a human “head” is a high point as well, a top or a tip, which works when you’re standing, but not when you’re lying down.

Crested Wheat Grass

On the other hand, don’t those grasses look like they have lush tails? It’s not so far-fetched. A tail is tip as well, the end of something. If we’re lying down like a salmon, we can say we have both a tail (tip) and a head (a tip). So, that’s no good. Luckily, there’s also a face, which suggests the question: does this grass display heads here, or tails? Or faces? It certainly faces one. It swishes behind one like a tail as one walks. It has a certain height. It has many tips. In fact, isn’t it all tip and the journey to get there and then the trailing off and ending, as tails do? So, tails it is. Perhaps the heads are buried in the earth, sprouting hairy roots and looking down there to see what can be seen. If that’s the case, grass never stands up straight. It’s always crouching down and showing its feathers, like a bird fanning its tail. So maybe it’s not tails. Maybe it’s birds of grass! The real trick is to see all of these possibilities at once, as head-tail-face-bird! Our ancestors just gave up and called it “grass” for the sound it makes, and left the hard part to us.

Categories: Grasslands

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