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sunflowers in bloom

September 19, 2008

dusted in pollen

golden fragrant i

await you honey

I offer this today since my sunflowers are all in bloom along the fence. The one pictured above somehow lost its head in the coastal breeze, so I brought it in, scanned it, and placed its short stem in a glass of water so to enjoy its scent and its sunny disposition. I published this little ditty in ArtLife Limited Editions in October 1997 (sans sunflower photo); I printed the words on soft yellow paper and over them painted golden glitter.

I have always loved sunflowers, and find their subtle scent intoxicating. To make this fullsize impression on fabric which appeared in several shows, including two solo shows, I painted my body in greens, my hair in yellows, and my face in browns and blacks, carefully placing myself on the fabric to mimic the arrow or heart shaped leaves of a sunflower stalk (it was quite tricky getting up and down–thank goodness for all the hip-openers I do in yoga!), then wrote the poem on the fabric.

For the broadside which was published in ArtLife Limited Editions July 1998, I photographed the painting, and reproduced it with three colors. I signed and numbered the finished pages, glued two sunflower seeds on every broadside and sprayed the paper with sunflower essential oil. The original painting is still available for purchase as are copies of the broadside.

The poem which is printed on the broadside I realize is also an elegy, in keeping with the Read Write Poem prompt, an elegy of sorts to that long-gone relationship, and to love.

Sunflower Song

She was a volunteer,
that sunflower–
I planted basil in her small wooden box.
Snails kept eating those tiny tendrils
until I put the box on a metal table
where they couldn’t climb to it.
The baby sunflower, they left her fuzzy leg alone;
she’d have a hard enough time
stretching out from what contained her.

The basil grew
dwarfed but gren.
Her long leg reached skyward
I watched her, watered her
hoping she’d grow
until too unhappy with us
I moved away, left your studio for mine.
I didn’t give her as much attention then.
I stopped believing she’d bloom.

I fixed up a place of my own
with sweet jasmine and forget-me-nots
carried over some plants
from the garden we made for us.
On your odd metal chair
I set the sunflower in her bed of basil
wondered again if she’d bloom
watered her carefully
saw her develop and grow strong.

On your birthday a few days ago
i dared give you posies from my garden.
You in turn embraced me.
I took my ache to my window
took my tear filled gaze outside
and there she was:
her little face was taking shape.
I gave her all the loving
I wanted to share with you.

I didn’t expect much more from her
but I, a day or so later
having found myself
in your bed in your arms
I went out and there she was
fully exposed, shining.
She took the risk a volunteer takes
she found what she needed to bloom.
I will keep finding it too.

(To read another poem about this long-gone love, the one who coined me “Art Predator,” go here.)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2008 11:22 pm

    Ohh, I love that first sensual lovely flower poem too, that is ssooooo sweeet,

  2. September 21, 2008 1:02 am

    I’ve enjoyed your site and esp. about the sunflowers brought back memoreies of a much simpler life. An elegy of sorts. Poor Cat. Thank You.

  3. September 21, 2008 7:30 am

    lela b, you are welcome. i know –poor man ray…my good friend and former housemate kathy found poor man ray; i had seen the ravens and vultures in the vacant lot there…so sad

    yes i love the sensuaiity of the first poem too, pail–short and sweet.

  4. paxcult permalink
    September 21, 2008 11:51 pm

    We have a free-loading, transient sunflower that sprouted in our garden a few weeks back. It’s beginning to develop now. It’s a hopeful sign at the end of our first apartment garden. The change of season, and change of light, have had poor effects with the position of our plot. But just the vision of that hardy sun blossom gives us hope for future till and tender.

  5. jen permalink
    October 31, 2008 12:35 am

    does anyone know about a bed made of old wood from door frames and chairs and then a fabric headboard and baseboard that is a beautiful sunflower field!!!!!! help i saw it in a magazine and am desoerately trying to find it

  6. October 31, 2008 1:57 am

    gosh, Jen, I don’t. sounds lovely and like something you could put together tho! maybe with the help of a craftsperson or handyperson? try habitat for humanity restores for old doors etc

    Coleridge argues that the aesthetic is that which engages the whole soul.
    See what’s engaging mine today at

    — On Thu, 10/30/08, wrote:

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