Fallen Flowers, Ruinous Beauty


I’m one of those annoyingly anal Virgos who would rather get rid of a bouquet of flowers just as it starts to turn rather than watch it wither away in sad, slow decline. If there’s just one or two blooms that start to go, I’ll simply remove them and let the bouquet go on a few more days, but when they all start dropping petals it’s just too depressing to watch such irrevocable decay.

That practice may have changed when I witnessed the aftermath of this beautiful bunch of tulips. Untouched and unmoved, the natural progression of the life of a flower played out on a granite countertop. I watched with rapt wonder as the petals slowly folded back, as the pollen fell off like powdered sugar, and the pistols and stamens protruded in their own show – the accents of a bloom that don’t always get such a moment to shine.

Hooded by their collapsing petals, the pollen sacs peeked out like little heads of fear and worry. Their protection was about to fall. Their last line of defense was about to tumble. But oh how pretty such degradation could be.

Extremely extended and fully unfurled, the petals yawned and stretched, utterly unaware that they would not fold back when night fell again. Or maybe they did know, and were putting on one final show.

Petals of white go almost translucent as they age, streaked with deterioration. Sprinkled with pollen, they become abstract works of art. Beauty is everywhere if you look hard enough to find it – the universe has insured us of such.

Then, in the stillness of night, the soft clicking of fallen petals echoes the ticking of time.

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