Hot Fingers Close Around the Stem: The Erotica of Flowers in Prose, Poetry, Paintings

John William Waterhouse, "Gathering Flowers"

How can one help shivering with delight when one’s hot fingers close around the stem of a live flower, cool from the shade and stiff with newborn vigor!  ~Colette

Such is inspiration that gives one more reason to spend time as supplicant of the garden again.

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.  ~Chinese Proverb

The flower is the poetry of reproduction.  It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.  ~Jean Giraudoux

Even if you think the Big Bang created the stars, don’t you wonder who sent the flowers?  ~Robert Brault,

--Berthe Morisot, L'hortensi

Inspired by all of these, I made some flower art too:

Shakespeare Called the Moon a Moist Star 

When the earth laughs, a flower is born

Emerson once said something

to this effect—Think of a river somewhere—

anywhere. . .the hillsides painted

in guffaws, titters, tulips. Silk chapeau

and bawdy cackle.  The Turks say tulbend

or turban.  At the time of tulipmania,

one might have sailed across an ocean

or the English Channel—simply for a love

of tulips.  The Wind Trade they called this

tuberous pearl, spring-blooming,

unearthed and exchanged for its weight

in seventeenth century florins.

I once read having an orgasm

is like laughing out your legs.  When the sky laughs

might we expect an exhalation

of small planets? A star shower preceded immediately

by a gravity of salmon underneath our skins

Somewhere somebody is thinking,

Perhaps it is the moisture that makes

all the difference

Snowflake, raindrop

silk tassel, periwinkle—

you see? Oh, yes—milk thistle, day lily

and sweet sweet William.

–Tess Farnham (MIdwest Quarterly, 2003)

A bread and butter fashioned of flowers. 😉


Like Butter, An Introduction to the Language of Flowers

photo by Tess Farnham

“And the wand-like lily which lifted up,  As a Maenad, its moonlight-coloured cup,    Till the fiery star, which is its eye,      Gazed through clear dew on the tender sky.”

Close your eyes if you will and imagine the enclosure around a bowl and fountain, its  gray painted sides alive with the hieroglyphics of those come to baptize the blank slate. ..

sequestering themselves away with only the sound of running water to inspire…

as they peed and pondered the mysteries of the universe,

sharpies at the ready and poised to scrawl those innermost thoughts. ..those odes of undying devotion.. those offers of meaningful connection at the click of a couple of digital buttons. ..

Consider too  the lowly scoreboard. .  .

the blatantcy of facebook page and relationship status,

the mobile’s greenish screen and keyboard. ..

if only to name a few of the places where alliances are forged, born, and broken these days.

But have you ever wondered what the pioneers did for PDA/PDBreakup before the saturation of mass technology?

Before the bells and whistles,

before the misspellings and abbreviations, the glows thrown off by text message light. . .

And what of those gentle Victorian ladies who hid their hands and ankles,  lacing themselves up so tight, it tournequeted the circulation from heart to head. ..

so much so that the menfolk were put upon to fashion special couches for them to fall on. . .

The few the proud, the ones who got there first. . .  nevermind this modern shock and awe delivered at the door of  far flung incontinents. . .here was hand to hand interacation.

Hold your fire until you see the whites of their eyes kinda stuff.

Here lies beloved, her poor corseted form flung across the velvet upholstery and hands kept dainty inside  silk gloves. ..till he arrives extending his intentions all neatly arranged in a bouquet. ..Depending upon the intent of the sender, a man could make or break his relationship with just one trip to the florist’s shop.For Next Time:Like Butter. ..Lily in the Language of FlowersMeanwhile, check out theImpressionist and flowers-inpired art here:

Cosmos and Iris, acrylic on canvas, Tess Farnham