They’re too pretty. They distract you from all the miseries around you, inside you. They are beautiful effortlessly, which puts everybody to shame.
One of my favorite poems, Walking Around by Pablo Neruda, opens with these lines:
It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.
He goes on in that vein for a while. Then comes the line I’m thinking of, thinking of flowers:
Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily
So fresh flowers can be pretty outrageous, pretty powerful.
Sometimes I prefer the two dimensional.
That is still-life painter Eliot Hodgkin’s “May.”
The scent almost wafts off of the nineteenth century Johan Laurentz Jensen’s clutch of lilacs.
It’s a relief sometimes to have flowers that stay safely on canvas.