The tulips are already opening,
in the brown, fat-bellied vase –
the vase that came with love
from your tired brother.
That’s my springtime vase,
pregnant with hope. The brown
sets off the clear bright springtime colours,
oh so well. Somehow, I never take it down
for roses, plump with scent and self-importance,
or autumn leaves, or winter berries.
How luxurious, I think, to have a choice
of vases for the flowers we bring home.
I’m not sure if they are dead or living,
picked like this. They’re buds. They open up,
they fade – tulip stalks twist and buckle
as they die, but still, they’re beautiful,
already opening on the windowsill.
She observes the painting soberly –
poor Vincent – all those irises,
slate grey and twisting, clawing
to be free. She takes a picture anyway.
Later, she’s drinking coffee,
scrolling through her phone –
her Instagram all hearts and comments
that she doesn’t bother reading.
She buys tomatoes, lettuce, cheese,
and, as an afterthought, a bunch
of narrow irises, midnight blue and twisted
tightly , one half opening. In her bag
her phone chirps cheerily –
“You have a message”. She pats it absently,
defers her pleasure. Pays and walks away.
I’m hosting dVerse tonight, and I’m asking people to write about flowers, and the traditional language of flowers. I’ve chosen the iris, which means “I have a message for you”.
I am a whimsical child. I read fairy tales long after I should have left them behind. I like the quirky and fantastical. I adventure with hobbits and walk with elves, dream of dragons and strange, gnarled creatures living among tree roots. I learn things, too, from my reading and dreaming, and one thing I learn is the names of flowers – all from Cecily Mary Barker and her Flower Fairies, a delight.
Today, years later, as I walk around the grey blocks of the industrial estate where I work, I am reminded of those books by the gaudy yellow gorse flowers flaunting themselves in the hedge. I grew up a northern girl, a townie, and didn’t really understand the old saying: “When the gorse is out of blossom, kissing’s out of fashion”. Gorse flowers were summer holidays, seaside and moorland. Now I live in the south-west, where there is a constant taste of salt in the air, and I know that if you look hard enough you’ll always find a speck of gold, scented with coconut ice, like a kiss of sunshine on a winter’s day.
Flower fairies fling
Bright painted songs on the breeze,
Dance fragrant dances.
This is, of course, the Gorse Flower Fairy, by Cecily Mary Barker. I know you know her work. And this is a haibun for dVerse, where Lady Nyo is keeping the bar, and surely serving up Shirley Temples. She’s asking for childhood memories.
This is a little bit of a cheat. I decided that this year I would try and keep my haibuns really and truly in the here and now, and use them as a bit of a record of the year, so a childhood memory as the first haibun of the year was a bit of a shocker! However, the gorse flowers I came across the other day made me think of that old saying – that I discovered in the pages of the Flower Fairy Alphabet. I am REALLY good on English flower identification, thanks to CMB.
Even though I garden, I have a grudging respect for dandelions.