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Contents Page: Jan 1, 2012, vol 7 no 4

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Donna Fleischer

Kingdom of the Pansy

(Pansy derives from the French "pensée")

She led me over to the small bed of fresh sprung pansies. Creamy, velvety sky blues and purples boisterous with sun. I knelt beside her, touched her hand as she held one open at the center for me to look inside. Three squat, miniscule grains all in a row — yellow, violet, and pearly white — lay beneath a petal canopy. She let go. The flower closed like an eyelid. Ardently I dove headfirst into her thick hair loosely gathered at the nape of her neck, and breathed in.

It was my turn. I pulled the petals apart from between thumbs and forefingers, just enough, and looked and looked. It was just like she had said — inside, behind the place where the petals meet, there is a sleeping king with a saffron crown. A king of a size that would fit on the head of a pin, but I saw a kingdom.

Summer deepened through each lengthening day. Perhaps, for the first time, I noticed the half acre espalier of roses in the backyard that formed the western boundary with our neighbor, who would often surprise us with armfuls of red American Beauties. One afternoon my best friend and I wandered to where the rosebushes gave way to an embankment sloping down into wild rhubarb, a brook and miles of dense trees. There she snapped off a thorn from its stem. We stuck our thumbs with it, pressing them together in a blood sisters pact sworn for eternal life.

By the following year my grandmother had died and we moved away. At the new school they taught that roses must be kept stiff with poisons, selected and used with care to capture the unicorn. I'd think of the little monarch dreaming in his secret bed and took care never to speak of him nor my best friend ever again.

water jar
the child's gaze floats
in forsythia

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