I bought flowers at the grocery store even though I didn’t mean to buy flowers at the grocery store.

Fresh flowers are for afternoons when you feel shiny and full of organized optimism and you walk down to the local market with the pretty apricots and the pretty avocados and the sunflowers that are too golden to call yellow. You wear a swishy skirt. You carry them in a brown bag that crinkles just right.

I bought irises at the grocery store, and they were tightly wound in their buds. So tight that all you could see was the indigo and maybe a sliver of the honey color coiled within. The grocer squeezed them into a not-crinkly bag next to milk and juice and toilet paper, and I stepped back into the drizzly day, warm enough for walking and cool enough for a thick sweater.

On a side street, away from the 5:30 buses and the muddle of commuters and dogs and joggers, I passed a woman. We were under a row of dogwood trees, all white ones, and she was inhaling them with her eyes and her face and her slow steps and the way she raised her eyebrows expectantly at me to say without saying, You see them? See? And I brushed away raindrops and switched my bag from one arm to the other and did not want to look up at them too.

I thought that the buds would open slowly. I put them in a white vase where the sun would reach them in the morning. And in the morning, they were already wide and full and thick with honey color and blossoming without having any sun it all, it seemed. And one part of me was saying look look look. And another part was already fitting this small wonder into a story (the one about the blooming flowers when there was an unspoken need for blooming flowers) and that same part was judging the story already for trying to fit something sharp and prickly into something glistening and clean. But there was a tiny third part that wondered and probably secretly knew that that grabbing impulse, that blue flame that pulled at story threads, was a soft and sacred thing.

One evening, the irises bloomed while I slept. There was no sun, and still they bloomed. They were indigo and light gold.


© Anne Boyle
[This piece was selected by Damyanti Biswas. Read Anne’s interview]