Sleeping Hibiscus

Writing Assignment: Plant Life

In the evenings, the flowers fold in like little shops closing up for the night. There are the occasional night owl blossoms, but most tuck themselves in, neatly folding their petals in demure lady like pleats to keep out whatever Night brings. It is easy to pass by a flower and not see it or think it only something pretty and not the living, beautiful universe it actually is. Georgia O’Keefe said something like that once. That’s why she painted them so big; so they could not be missed.

As I left a musical performance Tuesday night, I saw a beautiful hibiscus bush. They are one of my favorites. But then again, I say that about a lot of flowers! The best are the dinner plate hibiscus with monstrous blooms splayed out round and flat just like its namesake. I have no idea what kind of hibiscus this was because it was already well dark.

The closed blossom looked very little like a plant in the evening dark, half-light shinning across it. Botanic veins were dark and thick in shadow as though they coursed with blood. I touched it. Felt the weight of it in my hand, petals draping close and moist like delicate skin. It hefted like flesh and for a moment I thought I felt a single pulse.

I let go of it gingerly, not wanting to just let it fall carelessly from me but somehow feeling like I’d disturbed something that was pleasantly dreaming away the time before I, in my thoughtless way, presumed some sort of ownership and right to touch it. It is easy to forget how alive the world around us truly is and then, in one moment, a sleeping hibiscus can remind you of all the enumerable, exquisite living things sharing space with you.

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