Flowers: a Lyric Essay

Originally posted in early 2016.

“I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.”

If thoughts could be collected and pressed, preserved, like flowers; if memories faded to soft sepia over the years; if the self could be constructed like a collage. If I could be the girl I wished to be. If I could be the girl I believe I am. If my feminism did not deter those who misunderstood my passion for pointed spite. If the walls of adolescence did not pertain to me, those four, cracked, spineless walls, housing thousands of unread novels and dogeared poetry anthologies, if I could escape the walls into limitless brilliance. If things could stop. If time could stop, for even the slightest moment. If I could stop watching my reflection change and instead savor it remaining the same.

I’ve made things difficult for myself, unnecessarily. I’ve unnerved those around me and lost those who I never meant to lose. My idea of self no longer feels safe or stable or even tangible. In being sixteen, I’ve seemed to forget that I’m allowed to be a feeling, hurting human being with an erratic heartbeat. Something different has happened in the past few months. The cage cracked open. The pencil split in half. Everything, subtly, quietly, and almost unnoticeably at first, changed.


“Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.”

I collect daisies in translucent containers and, with the stagnant throbbing of airless time,watch white fade to pale cream, watch yellow turn to the color of daffodils. Life continues on.

A world full of conformists, of zombies, of exhausted, unyielding hopelessness, of tired eyes and red lines dotting warm cellulite thighs. Each body different but each heartache perpetual. There is no way out of this. The world will not end on our account. We will not be okay, we will not be leaders, we will not change the world, because we are too tired and too worn out to get through the day, to get out of our empty beds, to feel our feet graze the carpet.

Each day is the same. Each body limply forcing itself out of the quiet haven of thin sheets and curled up blankets. The sky silent and dark, 6:30 AM, each brain disintegrating day by day into the peripheral abyss, the one that hangs outside of our routines, outside of our forcing ourselves to get through the days. It feels like nothing anymore.

This, I wrote halfway through sophomore year, at the time when blunt-force self-contempt and longing shoved me into a closet, into a wall, into relentless introspection. There exists a point in adolescent existence that this wall closes in, the city you have spent your entire life in becomes a prison, and suddenly, you perceive yourself as a detriment to happiness.

But. As Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal, “Your room isn’t the prison. You are.” Los Angeles harbors traffic, materialism, idle belief in “colorblindedness”, copious conformists, and it is hell. Los Angeles is also home to Joan Didion, to Charles Bukowski, to me. Los Angeles is not what is holding me hostage, I am.

Consciousness is not definable, nor should it ever be. There exists little coherence in the concept, and being a teenage human, with validity issues and self-doubt and endless fluidity, the only fight to wage is one against solipsistic, trembling loneliness. In this world, in this universe, the striving and the struggling are synonymous. And life hurts, bends, contorts all reason and authenticity.

If your body is female, it belongs to a set of unconscious white, disillusioned men, your uterus a public playground of scrutiny. If you do not identify as a rigidly binary person, in sexuality, in gender, in etc, etc, life shoves itself down your throat and choking is considered part of the deal. Race, a social construct, dictates worth of human life. Loss after loss. Bruise after bruise. If you are really you, you owe the world something. It is not fair. It is not right, but it is the way it is. If you are you, life also blooms extraordinary colors and grows to unimaginable lengths, while you grow into a girl, a person, a beautiful, collage of facets and ideas and thoughts. Flowers grow, people change, shift, die, evolve, blossom.

The average human brain has around 86bn neurons. Each neuron is able to carry a memory. If you divided the brain into its four lobes, frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital, and attempted to map out the particular functions specific to each lobe, still, you’d be left with questions and a heaping quagmire of confuddled answers.

One question neuroscientists have yet to answer about the brain is this: is this all we are? Four parts of a whole and a web of billions of cells; grey matter and white, the amygdala and hippocampus, the corpus callosum connecting everything to one another? The brain weighs just three pounds and is more mysterious than the entire universe. It controlsall functions of the human body necessary to live. This piece of matter holds everything we are and ever will be, inside of it.

After I am dead and my organs, burnt or donated, turn to unfamiliar, rotted pieces of matter; impersonal, inhuman, unimportant and unliving, what will happen to my brain? If I could ask the universe any one thing, I would inquire of the future whereabouts of the colors, of the sensory displacements, of the experiences and dreams and thoughts and the tiresome, beautiful, dissonant construction of myself.

But there is no answer, nor will there ever be, and this is what I am learning to be okay with. I am okay with not understanding why flowers die, and I can press their perforated petals, but I will not piece what is gone back together.