" A Tribute to a Favorite Flower" using words and/or pictures.You'll find InlandEmpireGirl's tribute to the iris, here and Silver Valley Girl's tribute to the sunflower, here.
A couple of summers ago I snapped geranium photos at Silver Valley Girl's house and used those pictures to create one of those nifty Picasso collages. It is many geraniums (gerania?) mashed water color-ly into one. I chose the geranium, not only because it is a favorite flower, but also because one of my favorite poem's, written by Theodore Roethke, is a lonely, hard living man's tribute to the flower. First the poem, and then I'll say a few words about it:
When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine--
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she'd lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)
The things she endured!--
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.
Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me--
And that was scary--
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.
But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what the geranium comes to embody in this poem. One way I look at it is to see the geranium as an image for the inward life of the poem's speaker. The speaker has been ready to give up on himself, but upon review, takes himself, like the geranium, back and gives himself, like the flower, whatever sustenance seems sensible, always mindful of the demands he has put on his soul: the dead beer, cigars, gin, bad steaks, shrieking women -- and he never quite gives up on himself, but sacks the maid who gave up on his geranium.I also see the geranium as the embodiment of the abuse the speaker piles on himself and others; but the geranium, unlike the others, endures, stays with him, continues to bloom and survive in spite of the dead beer, cigars, gin, bobby pins and other crappy elements of the speaker's life. The speaker regards the geranium as reliable company. He can't leave it by the garbage pail and is beside himself when the maid dumps the geranium.
Without the geranium, all he has is loneliness -- and this is true no matter what the geranium comes to stand for.