Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Valentine’s Day bouquet

By Bob Boldt

I am obsessed with all the varieties of possible human experience; how two lives can see the same setting from such differing perspectives. I think it is necessary for one to not only be able to see the world through all the lenses of personal parallax, but also to understand our experiences from a state of transcendent, unconditioned Reality. My thoughts this Valentine’s Day drifted back to a small London park I visited nearly 45 years ago:

Wilbur Wendt, a young undergraduate student of the graphic arts, bouquet in hand, pushed open the elaborately decorated gate and entered a small garden near Hyde Park in London. It was actually a privately maintained affair filled with carefully set out beds of bright flowers appropriate to the season. This being mid February, all that was left were the remnants of ornamental cabbage and kale, still sharing their intense purples and deep blue-green hues thanks to the unseasonably warm weather.
    On Thursdays the park was traditionally open to the public from dawn to dusk. Wilbur selected one of the four available empty benches and sat, lost in thought, gazing absently at a large bronze sculpture of a beautifully erotic nude dancing couple, the centerpiece of the landscaping. His eyes lovingly explored the richly endowed form of the female dancer. He was thinking of Marjorie’s beautiful body and the resemblance of the bronze breasts to those of his love.
    She was a little late, but he showed no irritation, knowing that this was her custom. Having carefully placed the Valentine offering on the bench next to him, he stretched out his arms along the seat. Squinting his eyes against the sun’s filtering rays fluttering through the gently breeze-blown pine branches overhead, he smiled broadly and inhaled deeply the invigorating February air.
    What a magnificent day, he thought, squinting his eyes at the light and shadow of the tree-filtered sun. The beautiful spectral rainbows he saw diffused through boughs and half-closed eyelids were a joy to behold. All week the weather had been unseasonably warm, a pre-Valentine gift of sorts for lovers everywhere. It was a pity not to have been able to share it with Marjorie, who had had to spend the week attending to her father’s estate in Sussex. But today they would be together.
    Once again his eyes lovingly surveyed the bronze breasts.



Charles Ellenwood, married, fifty years of age, and a tenured professor of astronomy at University College London, had just come from a visit with his oncologist. The cancer that had been in remission for more than a year had returned uninvited and with a vengeance. He left the doctor’s office stunned. He had just become used to the idea of having his life back, only to have had hope once again dashed.
    The city streets filled with all those people going about so full of purpose and hope seemed an assault on his consciousness. Nearly on the verge of tears, he spotted a small park, pushed open the heavy, black iron gate, and went in. Too late, he spotted a student on one of the benches. He moved undetected to a seat to one side, out of sight.
    Noticing the flowers the young man had placed alongside him on the bench, he thought, How ironic, it’s Valentine’s Day. He had nearly forgotten after the shocking news. In his present despair, flowers only reminded him of funerals.
    He thought of the special bouquet that would be arriving at his wife’s office that very afternoon, and the tears began to flow. The whole park seemed somehow funereal. The ornamental cabbages looked singularly appropriate in their purple colour, symbolic of death. The pines ringing the perimeter reminded him of a rustic cemetery he and Marcy had visited in Umbria around this very time last year. The unseasonably warm day and its cheery sunlight striking his watery eyes seemed also designed to somehow mock him. He took a strange consolation in thinking back to those snow-covered Italian pines.
    From where he sat, the sculpture in the center of the little park seemed somehow sinister and threatening. It was a bronze cast of a life-sized couple circling each other in some sort of macabre dance, or was it in combat? He thought of Persephone raped by Pluto, god of the underworld. His eyes involuntarily fixed upon the erect nipple on the breast of the woman dancer. He tried to imagine how hard and unyielding it might feel if bitten by human teeth.


Copyright © 2016 by Bob Boldt

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