In Praise of Flowers

An incredible row of bearded irises in more than the colors of the rainbow is blooming along the path between the van drop off and my office. Every day my vanmates and I walk by them, we comment on their beauty. Every day, there’s a new facet to notice, a new color opening up to the world. It must be the best way to start the day.

purple irises

A few amazing things about flowers:

Amazing thing number one: irises come in more than one color—burgundy, a purple so deep you can almost taste it, combination packs of dusty red or violet with yellow, a bloom that starts off the palest purple and turns white as it unfurls.

Amazing thing number two: the whole furling business. These large petals start out all folded up in a neat little package. How do they do that?

Amazing thing number three: this is only one kind of flower! We have yet to celebrate the bright orange poppies along the side of the road or the jasmine whose scent is filling my patio with honeyed air or the delicate cherry blossoms that look just as beautiful falling off the tree as in full bloom.

Amazing thing number four: you don’t have to do anything except plant and water them. You don’t have to cajole them or pay them or promise them fame. It’s just what they do.

Amazing thing number five: flowers use their beauty to help support all land-dwelling life. Without flowers, we would be in big trouble.

The richness of these fifty feet of ruffled, life-giving color is too great to comprehend.

In keeping with the National Poetry Month theme, here is a poem about what comes after the flowers.

From Blossoms
By Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

4 thoughts on “In Praise of Flowers

  1. A great ode. I love it. “The whole furling business.” Right. Absolutely.
    And in the poem:”jubilance of peach.” and “sweet impossible blossom.” and the whole movement of the poem.

    You are taking us into the heart of the Great Mystery, where we already live but forget to remember that we do. Thank you for bringing us home.

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