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Poet, Artist and co-owner of Lasting Images Photography

Monday, July 05, 2010

An old one

The daisy facts made me remember an old poem I wrote. It related to a list a friend gave me explaining the Victorian "symbolism of flowers" There was a whole list: a tulip, especially a yellow one meant deception. Foxgloves indicated infidelity. Accepting a flower with the right or left hand expressed a positive or negative response to a suitor. Hibiscus indicated desire; pansies, suspicion; daisies, dissembling. It was a very detailed code that everyone had to understand if they were to cultivate or give flowers. I found it  amusing as well as poetic.

The Symbolism of Flowers
Eyes of day, white-petaled
dissemblers. He loves me-loves me not,
with all those tactile promises.
And in their midst, a tulip
as yellow as a caution sign.
So much for the symbolism of flowers.
I carry my cuttings inside
and tell myself if he reaches
to take them with his right hand
that means yes, the left means no.
But he doesn’t look up from his copy
of Car and Driver.
In my youth I tucked pink hibiscus
behind my ear to signify
an amorous mood. In time
I pinned forget-me-nots
over my middle-aged heart. Lately
I cultivate pansies and suspicion.
I fancy he has slipped on foxgloves.
But perhaps it is just indifference.
I might be telling the story of a man
who fell asleep in a poppy field and forgot
the lover he was, maker of cardiac cadences.
We continue. We have a license.
I head to the kitchen in search of a vase,
an informal one for simple stems.
There my two-faced daisies litter
the tile in a mute heap,
rendered silent by a single bud.
The language of flowers may be obscure
      but everyone knows what a red rose means.

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