Tag Archives: gardens

Vegetable Curves

VegetableCurls-GiordanoWrithing in vegetable curves

Coiled like petticoats

Wrapped around a woman’s ankle

Neither bud nor blossom

A garden invader

Spinning green and modest

And as workmanlike as a salad

Wound tight as a shell

Like the helix of the ear

It grew close to the earth

A stairway of leaves curved to listen

Not to the sea

Not to words

But to the botanical life

That breathed and rippled

Through the maternal silence

Of its earthy crib

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No Distinguishing Marks

In 1897 Max Beerbohm wrote a charming little bon mot entitled ‘The Happy Hypocrite.’ The titular character was a shocking, shameless dandy. He enjoyed a graceful, debauched life.

Until he fell in love.

However, she was a strong-minded innocent and repulsed by his approaches, by his face made ugly by a dissipated life. The man she marries, she declared, must have the face of a saint.

Distracted, this dandy found a very specific artist, an architect of masks. He had one made with the face of an angel, and it was molded to his face. He searched out his love once more, unrecognized and beautiful. They married.

But a woman from this rake’s past approached him and demanded that he remove his painted visage. Reluctantly he did and was amazed – along with his former mistress – to find that contentment and true love had wrought a remarkable change on his face. It was now indistinguishable from the mask.

Similarly, the street sign stood engulfed – it too was indistinguishable. It was obliterated by a curling garden that climbed like parasitic filigree, lissome and hungry. The steel marker was devoured, its banner threatened by a graffiti of roses and jasmine. Never had there been such a bower of vandalism, never had there been such delicate destruction.

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But this was not a hostile takeover. Rather, it seemed as if the metallic defenses of the city’s indicator welcomed the latticework of vines and the starry, chaste flowers. It must have been a ticklish business, feeling the tiny green movements and blossoms as fragrant as a boudoir.

The ascending growth dripped chlorophyll onto the cut and perforated metal. Butterflies visited to feast, dappling the structure with frost from their illustrated wings. The sign, blinkered by a bouquet of leaves and petals, had succumbed to a higher power.

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And perhaps, in the fullness of time, the invasive borders will be cut away. But the unknown gardener will be confounded, for he will find that the sign will have vanished, the street doomed to anonymity. All that will be left would be a single green sapling.

Maybe that is the way of all cities, to be replaced by networks of forests. Perhaps it is their destiny, to return to their earthly dominions, to dissolve into the twisting labyrinths of their fertile homes.

I Rose To The Occasion

One of my elegant neighbors, Red Pen, follows the delightful tradition of posting a photograph of a flower every Friday.  The photos are individual and intimate – she has an eye that quickly recognizes each personality that makes up a garden's population.

On photograph especially fascinated me.  It was a yellow rose - remembering The Alamo, perhaps – which gently receded into the soft distance with the exception of a single petal which stood out blade-sharp.  Each petal was warmed with a halo of pink as it curled into the curved interior.  

I thought I'd draw it.

But, to my dismay, my first effort failed.  And the second.  Followed by a third disaster.  Put plainly, the rose's wayward charm was the very devil to capture.

What follows is my fourth (or fifth) effort.  As you can see, the melted pastels have been demoted to black and white.  I've added leaves because, frankly, I had to.  Still, hidden behind the additions, alterations, extractions and licenses you will find the original bud that delighted me at first sight.  Like looking into the eyes of a loved one and recognizing the spark of attraction that started it all. 

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