Language of Flowers

| 07 Mar 2012 | 09:35

Every year we reclaim the garden from growth

gone wild, and every year it stakes its claim again:

mustard seed, wild phlox, forget-me-not, fleabane—all

speak a florid language in rebuke: Indifference, Unanimity,

True Love, Variety; even the dandelion is an Oracle.

But a garrulous nature confuses the issue—profusion

in the service of what? A sprawling self-regard?

We prune and hack and dig, treating all weeds as verbs,

replacing them with the proper nouns we choose:

impatiens, vinca, iris, morning glory, sunflower, cosmos.

In the evening we sit in the eye of the storm, complacent,

serene, as if it were we who were growing so naturally

on water, sunlight, and the nutrients of the humus.

We plant ourselves in the garden, in our green chairs,

and scrutinize the hours with a practiced eye.

What was it like to be alive this golden day?

We hardly know, except moment by moment when

the minute hand stops on the kitchen clock or

the seconds divide. What time is it? As if

there were many kinds of time to discern.

Time to go in, time to get up, time to get going—

these are the parts of speech nature leaves out

in the headlong cyclic surge we call the world.

How are we to survive? We drain, irrigate, till,

we sow and harvest—we celebrate—and so live.

– Paul Kane, Warwick