I wait for the irises all year. Same with the peonies. There is something so extravagant, so sensuous about both that it is nearly impossible to do anything during their brief time but admire, investigate with my camera and savor. You can’t really pick the irises. They wilt qiickly, folding wetly inward on themselves. The peonies are better, but also lose heart soon, dropping reams of petals, their heavy heads falling.
So I spend time outside every morning, when the dew fall is heavy, looking at them through my lens, lying in the wet grass to catch a different angle, another way of seeing. Last year, I was shocked by the sexuality of the irises – their mouths opening like labia, the lift of their petals echoing what Georgia O’Keefe must have seen (I can feel her fierce pleasure) so many years ago.
But now they are pure potential. Ripening, preparing, gathering themselves for that final concert of color and scent. I like to think that each day, we are also pure potential. That we have the possibility for greatness: great invention, or kindness, or pleasure.
This year, my feeling of that potential is fractured by the absence of my daughter. I am missing the resonance, depth and delicious enjoyment that she brings to my life. It is as if the bass notes are faded, and the music of my days feels tinny and thin, painful even. Having lost both of my parents, I can honestly say that this absence is worse than a death. In death, there is a resolution, there is finality. With this, there is none of that hard comfort. It is only unrelenting, an airless, suspending unknown. I never knew that I was this vulnerable to an injury of heart and soul.
And yet perhaps in that unknown lives that pure potential – the possibility for beautiful resolution, for opening, for truth, for love, for harmony. I pray, I pray.