by Kati Dlugosz
I ask the wildflowers in the meadow, Does it hurt to bloom?
Pressing my ear to the soft petals and swaying grass, I listen to the stigmas, to the soft, lulling song of the ovule. The lilt of all life hums against my ear drum. The white clovers and purple heather peep between the tall grasses and oak saplings, and I have pressed the yellow buttercups against the skin of my thigh. Sunny dandelions hang in the curls of my hair, the remnants of a crooked crown. I configure the shape of a white rose in the powdery wisps of clouds. I hope at times that every lilac and honeysuckle I ate as a child would somehow grow within me despite the worry of the sudden sweeping frosts each spring.
And the sun shone above me, cradled within the bright blue of the sky, rays of light shimmering through the maple and cherry trees. I think of all of the language associated with flowers – the red, red roses, the pink carnations, the drooping iris, the toxic hawthorn, the innocent daisy, the demure violet – and the petals choke in my throat. For to be of love, of forgiveness, of death, of innocence, of purity, of jealousy, of heartbreak, means to be already pruned before sprouting toward the sunlight.
And yet, the rose blooms upon my lips, red and acidic, thorns upon my tongue hidden by sweet familiar breath. And the violets bleed a deep purple upon my feet, and I am tangled in their gory green ivy. Lovely bleeding hearts climb up my ribcage, and string crimson garlands across my bones. And dogwood flowers blossom upon my fingertips, shaking and reaching and fallen just as soon as they open. Forget-me-nots bud along my spine, and bring me to my knees. I inhale, and lilacs burst in my lungs like shooting stars. I lie down on a blanket of bluebells on the forest floor, deafened by their keening in my ears.
The wilderness grows back, delicate and invincible, enough as it is.
I wanted to ask the flowers because of the heaviness of the seed in my chest. My hands fold over my sodden heart. The seed, white and quivering, fed by arteries of water sinking through the soil that carry the warmth of the sun. How brave, I think, to believe in sunlight when one must grow in the dark. The warmth must feel like a hope, a sentience not known, encouraging the seed to deepen the roots and strengthen the sprout with the promise of something tangible and bright and already growing within itself.
I will become the flowers within my heart, pink and blushing with life, the seeds nourished by the decay and fear of rot.
Yes, the flowers replied. But, light exists within the will to bloom.