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Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

 

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It’s not that they are hiding—

it’s more that they know

the power of a red dress.

Between slabs of red sandstone,

the tiny yellow green flowers

of the desert paintbrush

decorate themselves

with bright red bracts,

colorful flame-like spears

that attract butterflies,

hummingbirds and bees.

 

It’s what we do to survive,

those of us born plain,

those of us otherwise ignored.

I think of the homely girl I was

who wanted to wear

gold combs in her hair

to the middle school dance,

as if something shiny and bright

might attract the honey boys.

 

I want to go back to that gym

with its streamers and balloons

and take the gold combs

out of her mousy brown hair

and tell her the brightest parts of her

are inside. I want to tell her

that being a small green

and yellow flower

will serve her.

 

I want her to know

that a day will come

when she’ll walk in the desert

and feel so at one

with the cliffs and the scrub brush,

the lichen and the Mormon tea,

and that in that moment

when she loses her sense of herself

and merges with slickrock

and paintbrush and sky

it is then she will be most beautiful.

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also known as Johnny jump up, heart’s ease, heart’s delight, come and cuddle me

 

 

Into the shade by the porch

bloomed the first wild pansy,

its small yellow face sunny

and eager and open.

 

The Athenians used to make

the tiny flowers into syrup

to moderate anger and

to comfort and strengthen the heart.

 

And here it is today,

small volunteer beauty,

growing in this patch of dirt

where nothing else wants to grow.

 

This tiny garden is but one of many

concurrent realities—others involve

hospitals short of beds, loved ones

gone, doctors scared to go home.

 

Our hearts need strengthening.

Little violet, we’re learning, too,

how to be surrounded by death

and still rise up, bring healing as we bloom.

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The Truth

 

 

Inside the bright words

there are other words

that want to be said—

small words

in dark shells.

.

It reminds me

of the sunflowers

that grew in the fall—

how we loved them

for their golden petals,

 

but they were true

to the small dark seeds

that grew them,

to the small dark seeds

they grew.

 

 

 

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Because I cannot fix her heart,

I plant flowers in the two empty pots

on my mother’s high rise patio.

She’s always loved flowers around the house—

peonies and petunias in Wisconsin,

succulents and larkspur in Colorado.

She taught me when I was a girl

how to deadhead the plants

to produce more blooms,

how to make the snapdragon

open its reptilian mouth, how

to tell the story of Cinderella

by carefully dissecting the bleeding heart,

how to make touch me nots spit their seeds,

and how a few flowers around the home

bring immeasurable joy. And so

I pick out white and blue lobelia and

a soft gray vine and a hot pink begonia

and other flowers and vines I can’t name

and we sit on her patio together

in the late afternoon sun

and arrange the potted plants.

There is something about planting flowers

together that changes the way

you see the flowers—the same way

a soup tastes better when made

by someone who loves you—

and I thrill to think of her

looking out the window and seeing

the bright red geraniums surrounded

by purples and blues and greens

and thinking to herself, wow,

that girl really loves me, and

surely, surely, though it won’t

fix her heart, surely it will do some good,

those draping pink petunias

so familiar, so new.

 

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beside the floodplain

acre after acre of pale blue

thousands of wild iris—

 

just thinking of sharing them

they become (is it possible?)

yes, more beautiful

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Shower

 

 

Beside the dirt road

we find a whole bouquet’s worth

of purple penstemon,

 

pink wild roses, orange

globe mallow, and countless

yellow weeds. My daughter

 

picks them, a bride to joy,

and though there is thunder

it doesn’t rain, except for petals,

 

yellow sweet clover, that

she sprinkles along the dirt

to leave a trail behind us,

 

just in case we get lost, Mom.

she says. Sometimes love

seems to rise right out of the dirt

and damned if somehow

 

on that one-way road

I didn’t get wholly, beautifully,

heart breakingly lost.

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For though it is cold and bitter,

you raise your bright faces

and radiate loveliness—

as if to prove what is delicate

can thrive in adversity.

 

There is so much chill,

and sometimes I forget

I can meet bitterness with softness—

I think I, too, must learn

to speak the language of sharp.

 

But you, pansies, purple and yellow,

white and maroon, you remind me

that softness can be resilient,

that one small beauty

changes everything—

 

and if today we are able to shine,

despite cold, despite callousness,

then shamelessly, splendidly

let us shine.

 

 

 

 

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I resist any kind of discourse that anchors itself in identity and proceeds from there. As I said before, I want to get behind categorical distinctions and find and work with what human beings share and how, potentially, people can coexist in a world that is extraordinarily diverse.

            —Michael D. Jackson, “The Politics of Storytelling” in the Harvard Divinity School News

 

 

At first we just say flower. How

thrilling it is to name. Then it’s

aster. Begonia. Chrysanthemum.

 

We spend our childhood learning

to separate one thing from another.

Daffodil. Edelweiss. Fern. We learn

 

which have five petals, which have six.

We say, “This is a gladiolus, this hyacinth.”

And we fracture the world into separate

 

identities. Iris. Jasmine. Lavender.

Divorcing the world into singular bits.

And then, when we know how to tell

 

one thing from another, perhaps

at last we feel the tug to see not

what makes things different, but

 

what makes things the same. Perhaps

we feel the pleasure that comes

when we start to blur the lines—

 

and once again everything

is flower, and by everything,

I mean everything.

 

 

 

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One Thing to Do With a Fist

 

 

 

wrap it around

a bouquet of gold and orange calendula,

now offer it to someone else—

how easily their smile

opens your hand

 

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For every no I said to you,
I take it back and give you
in its place a bouquet of yesses.

The room is full of bouquets,
blossoms on every surface,
a blush riot of pinks and reds and lavenders,

even here inside of me,
a whole field of wildflowers
open and nod.

Was there really so much refusal?
Oh the unfolding perfume,
it dissolves everything I thought I knew.

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