what am I?
“a flower,” he said.
he always treated me like a flower:
he shaped my petals and leaves
until they knew his hands better than my own,
he crafted my lines and lifted me from the confines of my soul;
my light found with new eyes
the imperfections he didn’t like to see
the stems that I grew myself
the thorns made to protect me
he only cared to make me beautiful —
to make a centrepiece out of me,
to put me into a vase among those cut before me.
He only ever called me Rose. That wasn’t even my name.
We met when I was 17. I was sitting alone on a park bench when he began asking me directions to a cafe on the other side of town. When I explained its location and the time it would take to get there, he quickly pulled out his phone and called the person he was supposed to meet. His words made me think he was exasperated, but his eyes said something different. He carefully examined me with intentions I never truly understood until now. He asked sheepishly if I wanted to join him for lunch saying his friend would probably leave by the time he got there. Accepting his invitation was my biggest mistake.
He was a natural sweet talker. Compliments flowed out of his mouth like it was his mother tongue. It made me feel special and beautiful. I was always the odd one out of my family: half a foot shorter than my sisters, hair several shades darker, and skin a little too pale. No one ever believed we were related and they always said it was “too bad” that I got my dad’s genes. He never compared me to anyone. He always said I was a rose among lilies and that roses were special for a reason.
For five years, I stayed with him. I let his words form the reality I saw — about both me and the world. His words became my truth and his thoughts became my own. Like an artist, he sketched out who he wanted me to be. Like a pawn, I followed his every command as quickly as I could.
I only learned his true motivations when I saw his eyes leave my face to a girl sitting alone at the table behind us. His mood seemed brighter and he seemed interested — more interested than how he looked at me moments before. His eyes held the same intentions I saw five years before.
How did I not realize? He didn’t love me, he only loved what he could create out of me. He loved the power he could have and how quickly he could attain it. He loved creating beautiful things. And now that I was what he had imagined, he didn’t seem to love me anymore.
When his eyes came back to mine, he saw my realization. His face quickly changed to reflect indifference as he waited for the inevitable questions. To him, ignorance was beautiful and my knowledge tainted me. My eyes began to water as I sought answers in the depths of his dark eyes. As he started to get up, I only uttered one question before he left.
“What am I?”
“A flower,” he said.
This is a poem and short prose inspired by the Dione Brand presentation on her piece “ossuary VIII.” I got this idea from the line: “the stem of an orange dress,” which created this image of something that was once beautiful and full and now only a portion remains. This created a story for me in which a woman, who does not believe herself to be beautiful, becomes enamoured with a man who says she is like a flower — what girl wouldn’t want to be associated with a flower. What she fails to realize is that she was just at the edge of her transitional phase and that she would have blossomed even without his “help.” She begins to believe that everything good about her is because of his influence, which allows her to become dependant on him and allows him to isolate her from others. In her submission, he is able to make her into whatever he wants her to be — whatever he decides is “beautiful.” In his own process of creating something beautiful, the girl begins to lose herself. This manifests into her becoming a mere shell of who she once was and ultimately breaks her when he leaves. Only when he is gone does she see the person he was and the person she became, which was, ultimately, worse than where she had started.
I potentially want to create a short script from this. Both the poem and prose function as the realization of the girl as to what has happened to her. I want to try doing it as a piece that works with their story line chronologically but also include parts of the realization as if the girl is reflecting on when she should’ve realized that something was amiss.
(This has Dorian vibes but far more innocent on her end. Also posted a week late! Hah!)
7 thoughts on “the cruel reality of flowers”
In all honestly, I absolutely adored how you wrote a beautiful poem and followed it with a brief narrative in relation to the poem. Thank you for providing an explanation and your inspiration as well. There are so many things in your piece that I found was very well said and overall, it was very creative.
I always imagined that being called a flower was a positive thing but through your writing, you allowed me to see that the term “flower” can go both ways. You contrasted these connotations in a spectacular way.
From start to finish, this piece was wonderful. Finding critique is quite difficult especially when written as a poem. Poetry structure is never quite defined and it is always up to the author so there isn’t much I can say in regards to the poem’s structure. Perhaps in the future, include a further explanation and possibly your thought process on how you came up with such an intricate poem with such few lines. However, you did explain it well enough but this is the only suggestion I could think of.
I strongly encourage you to create a short script and I would love to read it. I know you can come up with something truly beautiful from the creative work that you had just completed. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
Thank you for reading my piece! I really appreciate your feedback; I have been trying to improve my explanations of my writing, so I can give a bit more insight into my mind. I guess one of my big things is I like working with threes: the three verbs describing how “he” treated her and the three cuts. My creative process is typically really impulsive but I will try to analyze it retrospectively to give more basis to my approaches when writing poetry.
Excellent job! I love how you managed to relate a short story to the poem perfectly without making the connection stick out and make it seem corny. I really liked the line “He always said I was a rose among lilies and that roses were special for a reason” as it connected the beginning, middle, and end in one sentence without the reader really knowing it.
In order to improve, I will say that the part where the girl goes on to state how she felt about herself (“I was always the odd one out of my family…”) felt a little out of the blue and interruptive. This is just my opinion but I feel the flow of that could be improved by a statement in between that offered examples of contrasts of what she felt about herself and how the boy made her feel. Kinda like “Before these words fertilized my ears I was nothing but the odd one out….” That’s just something rough I thought of in like 3 seconds so don’t take that suggestion seriously, it was more to clarify the point I was trying to make and I know you could make one so much better than that.
Other than that one slight hiccup this was a really great post to read.
Thanks for reading my piece and your kind words! I do agree that the line about the differences was a bit out of the place; I was having a hard time coming up with prose for this piece, but I did not have the right mindset to do the script I wanted that would’ve made what I was saying more clear. I do appreciate your suggestion and will remember to look for those situations where I can improve my flow in the future. I am keeping the prose as more of a guideline to what I hope to do with it but will look to improve it later!
I loved this piece so much! I loved the poem especially. Your writing is so easy to read- without it being middle school level writing. Your writing is so advanced yet you are able to put so much emotion and truth in it that resonates with your readers very well. I love that there wasn’t anything vague or overdone about your story. In a playwriting workshop, I took once, I was taught that sometimes the more specific you are with detail, the more likely it is able to connect to your readers. You were able to do this wonderfully with you poem and your analogy to the rose and the story of meeting this man. If I had to change anything, I would want you to go even further in your poetry. I felt that I kept craving more and more of it as I read. Please don’t take my recommendation too strongly as that is just an opinion of mine. (maybe someone else will think it is just the right amount.)
Thanks a bunch for reading my work and offering some great advice! I am so glad that you enjoyed the piece! I was struggling with the length I wanted to make my poem because I felt I did have more to say but decided to leave more of it to the prose. I am more than willing to work with my poem more to encapture some of the stuff I touched on in my prose and am glad that someone would want to see that!
My beautiful Nimrat,
I am speechless. The poem- beautiful. The story- beautiful. While we discussed Dionne Brand during class, I loved your interpretation of that one line and I am so happy that you pursued a response. The flow and imagery that emerges from your writing are things that I strive to implement into my own. Each line is clear and powerful and simple. The repetition of “what am i” evoked so much emotion in my soul as I read; I resonated with her pain and fear. I have absolute no suggestions for you, other than that I encourage you to do more with this writing piece.
Thank you for blessing this classroom and teaching me so much along the way. Best of luck in the future.