On being a pressed flower

There are three tiers of beauty when it comes to flowers: first, the wild flower, gently nodding its head in the meadow where it was born, surrounded by the breeze and buzzing of insects. Then, there’s the cut flower, at attention in a vase and destined for the compost heap after the petals brown and drop. Finally, the pressed flower, trapped in the pages of an old book, a two-dimensional memory of a spring long past.

The pandemic has taken our meadows away, our crowded freedom to enjoy the rise and fall of the sun outside, jostling to attract bees and butterflies as clouds roll across the horizon.

It has filched our perspective on beauty, our ability to see and share the romance of a bunch of flowers carefully curated in a heavy glass vase.

It has filed us in between the pages of a book, undated, with our colours leeching away with every passing month. We retain the impression of the things we once were, chaotic but organised collections of shades and hues.

The chance that someone will browse the volumes that trap us grows smaller with each day, or, at least, that’s how it feels. We can feel forgotten while still being present, with the creeping fear that no one will notice until at last we simply crumble into a memory of colour, dust that will slowly, slowly, slowly make its way back to the meadow to become soil again.

Writing my way out of a wet paper bag.