White Alyssum (Temple of Flowers)

i. in the bleak midwinter

Midwinter calls a longing for midsummer, midsummer
and midwinter tangling in the mind, unified by white,
white pictures, white noise — whispering snow in the whistling air

or shifting wisps on the ground, white alyssum hiding in
dark corners, petals as small as snowflakes; the sharp clear scent
of burning cold as sweet in its own way as that of white

alyssum (aroma penetrates into open space
misleading hunters, a masquerade, camouflage, this scent
so far from the source that the small bloom beneath is not found).

ii. frosty wind made moan

We all turned our coat collars against the wind, and huddled
together in the corner of the yard nearest the street,
hands as deep in our pockets as they could go, stomping on

the hard crust of the snow. One of the littlest tugged at
my sleeve. “I’m cold. I want to go in. Can’t we go in yet?”
I shivered, but looked at the house warily. They all hushed.

I could hear the cries still coming from the house — guttural,
high, thin, notes with crisp attacks and long decays. “No, not yet.”
No complaints. They just shivered, turned their backs to where we lived.

iii. earth stood hard as iron

“I’m so lucky,” she said lightly, in the kitchen only
a few days later. Her hands were swollen almost double,
mottled white and purple like shadows or dark leaves among

pale blossoms. Somehow she managed to wash dishes just fine.
“This happened just at break. Now I have a few weeks to heal.
I could never play piano like this.” The implied sound of

“Mazurka in D” threaded through silence as if it was
far away, as if sound was a scent fading as someone
passed by before deeper memory stirred to words, or questions.

iv. water like a stone

Even in the chill rebuke of silence, scent lingers — sweet,
elusive, persistent. The mind tangles cold with sweetness;
water freezes with waves in place. As blossoms fade and curl

under, new blooms push through to the top of the stalk, each new
cluster crowns as the old crown lets go and falls to the ground,
a supply of scent that seems as infinite as shark’s teeth.

Scent insists there was a moment beyond longing, hunger;
a moment floating in still waters like sound with lapping
and shivering dispersed into surrounding water, air.

– PF Anderson, sometime in 2004-2005


3 responses to “White Alyssum (Temple of Flowers)

  1. Magnificent…thank you…bless you.

  2. This is one of my favorite hymns. Interesting to see what you have done with this Very powerful.

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