Flowers grown in dark

close up of red rose on black background
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For so long I learned how

to unlearn living

taking from myself the stuffing of hope

letting it sink into water

to become sea dragon.

For so long I learned how

to unravel my sense of self

until she splayed like un-knotted parts

lost to sense, blown away

by wind and rain.

It is hard for me you see,

to understand the codes others live by

grasp a secret language of self-worth

belief in the core, where others cultivate

confidence or ego in neat parcel.

I had instead, a drive-through approach

shake-n-bake

leave the oven open

for patients to escape the asylum.

I was born a weed

between dirty post-war concrete

little watered, little attended to

I grew and persevered alongside

dog piss and empty coke cans

my color brighter than the cultivated plants

in your garden for my contrast to

yellowed grass much bleached by

urine and exhaust.

But weeds and thin things of little substance

need more than a little luck

to grow up whole

at some point I stopped leaning toward the sun

chose moonlight as my mistress

where over the oval of my sadness

I mistrusted the rest of the world

for she seemed to me then, full of

unkindness and pinches from cruel people.

In safe-guarding ourselves so long

we can easily forget

the chime of purpose

the rain of love

we think we can subsist on existing alone

that’s what I did,

survived without living.

It was long ago now, but still it seems

only yesterday at times, I met you

with your bright electric eyes and your

shocking lack of restraint, how your

madness compelled you forward with

a lightning rod as your scepter

I felt your hand reach for me

and I was undone by the intensity

of us. A jewel within a cave

that for so long held no light.

When you stopped loving me,

it rained for forty days and stayed

dry at night, I walked empty roads with

bare feet and saw flowers like I had

once been, growing fitfully by the side of

street corners, not knowing yet, what they

reached for or whether fate

or courage, would give them

wings.

If you take someone broken who didn’t know

how to be whole and you give them

love, they will either break it accidentally

in their desperation and fear, or love will

consume them and leave them unable

to live without it.

I felt without you;

incomplete, erased, unwilling

to live on, there seemed no point

for I had not learned to love myself

and perhaps I never will,

it’s in my blood, my DNA to be

shockingly empty of self-worth

I exist without living and it has become

a nasty festering wound refusing

to scab over.

You went on with your life because

for you, living wasn’t dependent upon

anything but hope, you had enough of

that to last several people’s lifetimes

it was, I think, the bequeathing of your

sickness. A magician claiming to

turn things to gold, when all he

possessed was slight of hand.

I however, did not know

how to forge hope or find reason beyond

habit for waking each morning, every

day I did, the burn grew ever deeper, never

really resisting the urge to

consume me whole. I heard voices

they would sing lullabies of

jumping from tall buildings

as others would have dreams

of flying. Mine was bent toward

destruction, a solace in the imagining

of ending this charade.

Tarnished people with little reserves

are good bait for hungry souls

who feast on their need to be wanted

with the savagery of a nation.

Since you, I have lived with dying almost

every day, the punctuated purpose of more

than wiping the slate clean, devoid

of consciousness, tantalisingly distant

I am haunted

by memories of joy like a slow

sword delivering poison

too intense for most of the world

I remain alone in my grief

binding it to me like a silent

child.

You knew this when you met me, you let

the dogs of your heat devour what

little strength was left, for survival

isn’t easy when there’s no water in

the deepest well.

I blame myself of course, as all

good victims are taught,

occasionally I wish for anger

to cleanse the pain away

even if it left just charred parts

and blackened ruin, it might

be easier to bear than

regret and memories

as potent now as the very day

I let my defenses down and you

walked in, radiant and unafraid.

WE are shelters for the needy

but so often, the Narcissist chooses

the same abode and for those of us

who grew without succor, or enrichment

there is nothing easier than our undoing

at the hands of a cold heart.

If I had a daughter I would never

let her flourish trapped between concrete

I would watch her until she grew

strong and had within her, all it takes

to ward off those who seek only to

bleed and consume what is good

and untainted. Perhaps it is too late

or maybe one day, I will learn

a way to keep growing

not just existing, and it is possible

in time, the scars of you could be

replaced by someone else. If such a

person existed, I cannot fathom, for this

world is often frozen in its

eternal demand for the cruel and

the unkind to conquer

and dance on the

fallen necks of

flowers unable

to keep facing

toward sunlight.

Still.  We.  Exist.

Perhaps in time

we will do more

than simply survive.

23 thoughts on “Flowers grown in dark

  1. I wrote this very differently. Very simple. Few images. Few deep words. I feared it would be read as too simplistic. I’m glad that’s not the case! Thank you so much 💕

  2. Karen said it best! You may have felt you’d written this piece very simple but it is laden with such intense emotion throughout, Candice. Having lived a similar past, this poem touches every bit of the injuries still within me. Thank you, Beauty! ❤

  3. On a recent walk I saw a little weed sprouting through the road. It was not slipping through a crack in old concrete, but straight through new blacktop laid down just last year. It made me think of the secret strength of weeds. No hot house flowers are these in need of constant nourishment and fertilizer and growing in extravagance. Weeds are because they are. They live because they live, even if by sheer refusal to succumb to the wounding world. And now, this poem brings that to mind. And the meditation goes another step to a deity proclaiming, “I am that I am.” If that is good enough for weeds and gods, then for us, suspended between them, it must be not a fate, but a power. And out of such power, you give beauty.

  4. Mentioning poppies reminds me of the photos of a valley in California solidly in bloom of poppies, even in a drought year. Absolutely stunning, and even visible from the space station. I’m also fond of the humble and indestructible dandelion, which I let bloom as it is one of the earliest Spring foods of both native wild and honey bees.

  5. Wow… those last lines:
    “for this
    world is often frozen in its
    eternal demand for the cruel and
    the unkind to conquer
    and dance on the
    fallen necks of
    flowers unable
    to keep facing
    toward sunlight.
    Still.  We.  Exist.
    Perhaps in time
    we will do more
    than simply survive.”

    Shivers. This is simply wonderful Candice! 💕

  6. This was a remarkable capture in poetry. It hit on quite a few old wounds now healed. I no longer have those wounds (the scars yes, the wounds no) … but I’ve found that once my wounds healed, I still don’t understand the codes a great many live by. Some beat to their own drum … it would seem that as I healed, as I grew, as I became aware of who I am … I began to beat to my own code. Truly a remarkable piece of emotional art, thank you for sharing it. ❤ Kimberly

  7. Brings to mind the line from the song Suzanne “she showed you were to look among the garbage and the flowers” … in this free verse there is a sanctity in pain, a feeling kept alive by it, that should turn itself inside out and become the Lilly again. She is a such tragic hero, the story of her initiation speaks of love, yet reminds us of cost, though it does not fade her beauty …

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