Apologia of flowerkind

For the dverse prompt, not exactly what was called for, but it’s honest.

 

Flowers are pretty (often), smell sweet (sometimes),

fight their corner, cling to their patch of earth,

 

and as such, they are admirable, but their lives are short,

measured in days, their function to attract bees or birds,

 

set seed, grow fruit, reproduce, and clear out of the way

for the next generation. Much like us, really,

 

except they are more attractive (usually) and as

far as I know, no flower has ever started a war.

 

Would I be a flower? I don’t think so. Not even a rose.

But I would like to build a world where flowers

 

have their place, where pesticides and herbicides

are verboten, where they are safe from property

 

developers, farmers, and those awful children

encouraged by adults who think wanton destruction

 

is sweet, who pick them then throw them away

when they find something else to torment.

 

No, I wouldn’t be a flower.

Being human is hard enough.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

47 thoughts on “Apologia of flowerkind”

    1. Thank you! I love flowers, but much prefer wild flowers to cultivated ones. They at least fit into a pattern, whereas cultivated flowers are like weird-looking cats and dogs, they exist because someone thought it was a good idea at the time.

      1. I’m in total agreement. I also often tell my husband it’s stupid not to like “weeds.” To me, weeds are just those beautiful little wildflowers that you would love if not for your planned-out garden. Who doesn’t like walking in a meadow of wildflowers?

  1. Ah Jane, a reality check indeed. The other morning my husband and I were walking the dog, and we happened upon some African daisies that had been pulled out of the ground and left to die. We picked them up and brought them home, and thankfully, they are surviving in my garden and blooming. But it made me wonder- who would do this to an innocent flower? It made me so sad.

    1. Well, when you know what people do to one another, it isn’t so surprising they don’t think twice about killing flowers. I hate letting plants die. Most of the things growing around the house are orphans 🙂

    1. We like to use flower symbolism, but maybe you’re right, and paying more attention to flowers, their needs rather than our cranky ideas about neatness and tidyness, would lead us to be more peaceful altogether.

  2. “I never met a flower that started a war”, a profound thought, worthy of sweatshirt or Meme status. Butterflies, like flowers are beautiful, but short-lived. I like your acknowledgement that we too, on a cosmic scale, are only short-lived granules.

    1. It’s symptomatic of a disrespect for anything you haven’t paid money for. I’ve seen parents letting their kids pull up the flowers in public parks, smiling indulgently. I bet they don’t let them pull up the plants in their own garden.

  3. your last line said is succinctly – it is hard to be anything with life these days.
    no flower has ever started a war. – I wonder if War of the Roses would qualify?

  4. I enjoyed your honest apologia, Jane. I like the image of them fighting their corner and clinging to their patch of earth, life forms just like us. I also love the line ‘no flower has ever started a war’ and agree that it makes a great slogan.

  5. Lovely poem, that last line rings with such truth.
    The line about no flowers starting a war made me think about the Opium Wars. I think it was David Cameron who caused significant offence when he wore a poppy on his visit to China in honour of remembrance day. Some in China considered it a reference to the Opium Wars, and the concession of Hong Kong.

    1. If I’d been killed in the Great War and seen plobby-faced slithey toves like David Cameron wearing a poppy ‘in remembrance’ and weeping crocodile tears for the heroes who sacrificed etc etc I’d have punched him in the face. You know what I mean.
      It’s people like David Cameron who start wars, not flowers, animals, or even ordinary people.

      1. That wasn’t quite the point I was getting at, I was referring more to the tumultuous history surrounding the poppy and the variation in it’s symbolism. While many in the UK see it as a symbol of remembrance, in China it can represent a time of oppression and the division of a country.
        In the UK we grow up being taught that it is a symbol of remembrance and links to the Great War, in China it represents the unrelenting force of the British Empire imposing their rule.

      2. I know, but leaving aside what the poppy represents to the Chinese, what it represents to people in the British Isles isn’t as simple as all that either. Is it remembering dead heroes, a cynical political gesture, or is it simply a symbol of the lives wasted in a war that made no sense and achieved nothing except to lay the groundwork for the second world war? We mess around with symbolism at our peril.

      3. Is that not part of what we do as writers? Dig into the complexity of symbolism and work it to our own ends?
        Everything becomes warped with unnecessary meaning through the lenses of humanity, which now I think about it, your poem depicts.

      4. Yes, you’re right, we do try to unravel the obvious to discover what it really means. It’s something everyone should do, because we’re all part of life and all responsible in our own little way for the accelerating destruction of it.

        I hear a lot of writers patting themselves on the back for being so sensitive, the power of words, pen mightier than the sword etc etc, as if by scribbling a poem we exercise some kind of automatic power over our fellow mortals and can congratulate ourselves on being so much more sensitive than the plebe. How many of those sensitive souls have changed their lifestyles one iota faced with the awful evidence of what we are doing to the world? Very few, I imagine. We humans have a streak of hypocrisy so wide we can’t even see it.

    1. Thank you! The more I think about life and what we consider worth having in it, the more I realise how much we pervert and destroy. We have a huge responsibility and so far we have proved ourselves unworthy of it.

    1. They all have their place. We have created a lot of misery in the plant world by importing non-indigenous plants along with their parasites that run rampant through our fragile ecosystems. Elm, ash, plane, box, they are all on the way out because fashion tells us that the home-grown varieties aren’t cool.

      1. Sadly that is true, isn’t it? I live in Florida now and we rely of Florida friendly plants in our gardens because they survive in this heat and humidity. They are also beautiful so why would we want to import anything.

      2. It has always been a status symbol here to grow banana palms, in fact any kind of palm tree, olive trees, bougainvillea, mimosa, things that grow around the Mediterranean. Now the imports come not just from a different region, but from a different continent and they are bringing their viruses and pests with them.

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