Zuihitsu for Drying Flowers

By | 15 September 2022

Sunday, in the ribs of a bluebonnet field, I reach for their little bells—a floral alternative for inspecting my body.

My mother and I: hands in the ice bath, flowers a kinship between our fingers. This is all there is. This, and spring aches pressed between heavy books.

Someone once told me drying flowers is like falling out of love: flattening life to a millimeter, to bland colors we call beautiful, all the veiny things on display without any mystery left in them.

Twelve and I demand my mother pull over so I can collect trumpet flowers off the highway. Pruning shears and delight. How quickly I learn to distrust this feeling, staring at the roadside memorial’s coquettish silk buds.

More than anything, I want to be a tulip bulb. Sell me in Amsterdam even though no one knows my color. Let me be a craving.

April heat where porcelain is the only escape. My first cycle comes and I’m still on the tile, trying to loop womanhood around me like a bandage when it’s really a wound.

My grandmother taught me to search for aphid holes in everything: sepals, the ends of question marks, a man’s eye, just wide enough to slip through when he stares too long and there’s no way out.

Let me be clear. I do not want to find my body in old metaphors. But I can’t help myself.

Yucca does not press well. Two mornings after an attempt, a quiet rot between cookbooks. Thick liquid hot and cloudy on the counter, a smell I can’t open without thinking of what little I know of sex.

Hands full of thorns. Weeding fingernails for days. A sacred vow to the earth that when I look for its offerings, I offer my own skin in return.

After the flowers all dry, I have no language left for what they used to be. But the books will never lie flat again, the imprint of all those floral bodies stuck in their pages. And I am jealous of them.


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