At Risk

At Risk

October 19, 2017 1 Comment

By Toti O'Brien

I don’t know why I do this. It is a lost cause. It’s a loss of time, and I have little of it. Usually, wasting it as I am now overwhelms me with guilt. But I am not feeling guilty. A bit torn. Part of me—ego? rational self?—tries to stop me, suggesting a more sensible choice.

For example tossing those flowers, which are clearly stillborn. Wash the vase, put it back on the shelf. I cannot. They have arrived yesterday. Sunflowers are my favorite blooms, and I had none in the house for a long time. Actually, I had no flowers at all for a very long time. I didn’t expect these. The surprise thrilled me with delight. I put them in a pale green, semitransparent pitcher, enhancing their boldness by contrast. I prepared myself for protracted enjoyment—they can last for two weeks with a little chance.

This morning all the heads have dropped. I immediately understand the bunch has been frozen previous to sale. The crowns will not open, just wither, just fall. I have cut the stems, duly, at the best angle. I cut them again. I have put nutrients into the water—to no avail. Not because of my carelessness, these puppies are failing to thrive, yet that is how I feel. Not my fault—of course not. The bouquet is a scam, as it happens, alas. Truly, the bouquet has done nothing. Those who sold it have.

Why do I need to create these complex wire structures—the same green of the stems—to support the crowns? They don’t work. I start over, trying different tricks, until I can prop each bloom in a semi-erect position. How ridiculous. I know it will be useless. I am perfectly conscious of setting up a sad masquerade. What is this pathetic comedy for? My own sake, I guess. These sunflowers are in agony, maybe already dead, but I have to pretend I’m doing the impossible to rescue them. I’m doing it, no matter the cost. Poor flowers, poor flowers.

Needless to say, one more day and they are defunct. Nothing now can spare them a trip to the trashcan. Should I do it very quickly, in one gesture, then forget about it? Oh, no. I have to remove each wire scaffolding I have built, then meticulously harnessed to the stem. I can’t toss these either. Poor wire. With a pair of pliers—the same as before—I painstakingly undo every coil, neatly rolling it onto a spool. I took the crutch off each flower, as if pulling nails from a crucifix. But I am the one bleeding, I swear.

I wish I were so kind, so compassionate to my fellow human beings. I wish I were so tender—so irredeemably in love—with myself.


Toti O'Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. She was born in Rome then moved to Los Angeles, where she makes a living as a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer. Her work has most recently appeared in Colorado Boulevard, Mothers Always Write, Scryptic, and Pidgeonholes.

For more contemplative reflections like this, take a look here or here.

Photo by JJ Thompson on Unsplash

1 Response


October 26, 2017

very nice. i feel the experience. and i agree.

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