I wonder what it will be like, the first flower that blooms this spring. There has to be a first, right?
Then again, hasn’t enough shit been said about flowers? All of the fields and the vines, petals, stems and vases; the gentle contours, endless colors, and kaleidoscope of scents. They are everywhere in life, and everywhere in poetry: Bukowski called them funereal, Cummings thought them God, and Dickinson spun little narratives out of her sense of awe. They’re easy to point out, an obvious object of artistic interpretation, which is why I’m feeling like perhaps enough has been said about flowers.
It’s winter where I am now and there are no flowers growing wild. Maybe that’s why I need to talk about them, to consider how they will return in a few months, how one will be the first to bloom. I guess I can’t help writing about flowers any more than those first intrepid petals can help bursting into being. I want to see the first flower. I want to smell it. I want to know what it is about this random mosaic of water, tissue, and hue, that raises it to near-universal appreciation.
They found their way there like they find their way to the sun, like they found their way to me. All of the ones I’ve managed to grow, and the ones that I have cut. Those I have given and those I have received. The photo I took of a New York City bodega’s flower display, glowing behind humid plastic walls in the middle of a January snowstorm. The crushed bouquet I saw outside of the Museum of Modern Art. The tulip tattoo I occasionally regret.
A flower, enjoyed aesthetically, is an arbitrary arrangement of cells serving no practical purpose, which makes it the perfect subject for that sense of religious wonder. There’s often nothing else to do with it but wonder, and to use it as a mirror for our own lives as we consider why it is. It doesn’t question, and it doesn’t worry. It simply is, until it is not, and so are we, until we are not.
I thought enough had been said about flowers, but maybe I was wrong. There are infinite ways of seeing flowers- about eight billion of which are ours. And each one of those billions begets its own limitless, fractal array of experiences and associations. So, yeah, I guess here I am, saying more things about flowers.
I take back what I said about that first flower, though. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to smell it. I know enough already.