Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Flowers of Manhattan

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Flowers of Manhattan

Article excerpt

. . . early morning petal-strewn sidewalks of Manhattan, honey locust, buckeye, hickory flowers, exotic blooms from the Korean groceries blown onto sidewalks, small pale purple scoops and pink delicate purses, shreds, loops, curled ribbons of magnolia, spikes and bells, scrawls, clusters of slightly hairy tiny yellow globes . . . early morning advocacy of life . . . the left side of a walnut tree glimpsed between ugly ochre buildings, starry petals of blackberry flowers and the brushy swabs of horse chestnut. Beyond a clump of Chinese privet with its white flowers sporting antennae-like sepals topped with gold tabs, a bush with papery slightly rumpled leaves, an import never mentioned by comedians or other show business types, a slender black man takes off his shirt. His skin is smooth and unmarked has a deep dusty shine to it. He strokes his chest, places his hands fiat on his breasts and smiles to himself. He stands under an empress tree just now shedding its bell-shaped, unequally lobed pale purple flowers that are slightly fragrant, slightly spicy, soft to the touch (a handsome, rapid growing colonial) speaking softly. I am overcome suddenly with a desire to throw my body into the mass of hawthorn flowers piled up in a bush beside the crooked stone wall. Elders and black haws, frothy white, are in bloom. The stately candelabra of the buckeye appear white, but close up have a yellow cast and are spiked with gold flanges and smeared with a slightly russet dye. …

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