Lisa Mednick Powell

Poetry Blast July 17, 2011

We ended our gig last night with "Dead Flowers" as usual. So it stuck in my head all night. And in the morning I got to thinking about my days as a florist in D.C., New Orleans, L.A., and Austin.Valentine's Day was always busy. Guilty rocker husbands and boyfriends would come in and get roses for their ladyfriends and wives, sometimes for both. Hey, what goes in the vase stays in the vase. Friends would call and order flowers and use that as an excuse to talk about songs or about each other. I would hold the telephone against my shoulder and listen while pushing the broom, winding myself up in the telephone cord as I swept up leaves, flower petals, ribbon fragments--all of it trash and all of it so pretty. I always went home with some fully opened roses that wouldn't sell. And I went home with nicks and cuts and thorns embedded in my hands. Always I took home somebody's love story. Some days I felt so responsible: if those roses did not last, how long would the fella last with the lady he was courting? So, here are some words about flowers. First, one from Ted Roethke who grew up working in his father's greenhouse. Then, Loren Eiseley--an essay fragment. And a strange little surprise at the end. Weed Puller Under the concrete benches, Hacking at black hairy roots,-- Those lewd monkey-tails hanging from drainholes,-- Digging into the soft rubble underneath, Webs and weeds, Grubs and snails and sharp sticks, Or yanking tough fern-shapes, Coiled and green and thick, like dripping smilax, Tugging all day at perverse life: The indignity of it!-- With everything blooming above me, Lilies, pale-pink cyclamen, roses, Whole fields lovely and inviolate,-- Me down in that fetor of weeds, Crawling on all fours, Alive, in a slippery grave. How Flowers Changed the World (Excerpt) by Loren Eiseley "...The truth is, however, that there is nothing very “normal” about nature, Once upon a time there were no flowers at all. A little while ago—about one hundred million years, as the geologist estimates time in the history of our four-billion-year-old planet—flowers were not to be found anywhere on the five continents. Wherever one might have looked, from the poles to the equator, one would have seen only the cold dark monotonous green of a world whose plant life possessed no other color. Somewhere, just a short time before the close of the Age of Reptiles, there occurred a soundless, violent explosion. It lasted millions of years, but it was an explosion, nevertheless. It marked the emergence of the angiosperms—the flowering plants, Even the great evolutionist, Charles Darwin, called them “an abominable mystery,” because they appeared so suddenly and spread so fast. Flowers changed the face of the planet. Without them, the world we know—even man himself—would never have existed. Francis Thompson, the English poet, once wrote that one could not pluck a flower without troubling a star. Intuitively he had sensed like a naturalist the enormous interlinked complexity of life. Today we know that the appearance of the flowers contained also the equally mystifying emergence of man..." Then there's this: