over the past few months i have lost one or one-hundred hours to the vanilla orchid and darwin’s orchid and the cymbidiums of asia; a small stack of books on the subject now clutters my nightstand. i’m trying to unearth the roots of this obsession. maybe it began two years ago with floristry studies. or five years ago when i began dreaming of a flower a few petals shy of beautiful, calyx curled inwards, its purples and blues receding into a dusty chartreuse as if painted with bruises. or maybe the seeds were sown two decades ago, having watched microcosmos, wandering the woods with my father as he tried to teach me patience and open-mindedness and how to mine for and mind the details. of course i am still bullheaded and easily blindsided. but i understand a little better now, what it means to lose yourself in the minutiae composing larger miracles. each year i wander the orchid show at the botanical gardens and imagine conversations we will never share and search for a flower that only grows in my sleep.
once my father told me that orchids in the wild are solitary and rare. i wish i could tell him that in my life, now, they are blooming within all sorts of contexts: while wandering through an exhibit and finding a tiny orchid carved into a chair (and spying no security guard, furtively brushing the engraved lips with my forefinger); upon entering the building of a man i am anticipating kissing, and finding in place of a name tag, a sticker of a purple orchid (and tracing it with a finger before ringing his apartment); as i am clearing out my shelves, a book falls to my feet and lies flat open to a page i’d forgotten, and memory blindsides me again:
this album of tao-chi’s poem-paintings is the only physical gift my father gave me, during one of our last outings together, when his sanity was finally fraying but he was still whole enough to speak of chrysanthemums, plum blossoms, and orchids. you know, i see a carving or a sticker of an orchid, and i can enjoy the synchronicity like marks in an impressionistic painting, but i don’t believe in signs or destiny. i remember that day with my father though, and i have deep faith in foresight: for we both knew our time together was limited. the museum was closing, and he told me to pick a souvenir as if i were a child again, and then he paid for the book, handed it to me carefully and slowly, and i knew how much he wanted to just give me something, anything.
finding joy, now, in the tiny detail of an elaborately carved chair or in a single brushstroke on a sheath of rice paper or in an inch long petal dripping off a dark green spike, i realize: he gave me everything.
like orchids in feeling
posted by susie on Sunday, July 14, 2013, at 1:21 pm. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.