Glass Flowers

By | 1 March 2017

Alchemical vessels
imbued with rumours of colour –
a pearly acorn-brown,
tinctures of amber, buff-white:

the Trickster, light,
mixing it up, sheathing
each sculpted bloom in
the glow of other objects;

even the innermost
whorl, the nectary,
endowed with
moody brilliance.

A time-lapse camera
would show these flowers
in violent metamorphosis:

tarry with darkness,
slicked by ivory moonlight,
dawn’s lava-red –

always in transit, becoming…
always, even when knifed by sun glare,
sealed, silent.

Seeded in fire,
amaryllis, iris, orchid –

sleek-skinned botanical studies

as vacant as living flowers are lush,
as brittle as living flowers are yielding.

Hothouse simulcra,
they lean towards windows

blank with rain;
bronze with day’s last embers.

The exquisite can be so cold.

But these sprays,
their silvery leaf-wings poised,

express a sunflower-yearning:
rearing up, opening out,

as is the way of plant life
and of human desire –

so outright;
heroic, in a way

and, in the end, unanswerable.

In response to paintings from Dena Kahan’s Glass Garden series.
They are based on The Glass Flowers exhibit at Harvard Museum of Natural
History, which displays botanical studies made by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka
from 1887 through 1936.

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