The Flower Carrier
after the painting by Diego Rivera, 1935
These blooms are for the mayor’s daughter, wedding on which a town pins its hopes. Soon they’ll set long tables creaking, throng streets in hanging baskets, thread buttonholes of businessmen, diplomats. If I were a cynic I’d call them fig leaves; decoration to perfume the stench of politics and little else. But their weight on my back is the weight of love itself, bright yet strangely heavy; the faith we all carry in our tired old hearts. I’ll arrive in town, hat tipped against the sun, pocket my fee, whistle and be gone, knowing this beautiful lie is my art alone.
Because what I love best is the sweat, swift force of will supplanting strength, forehand cross-court with enough spin to take your head off. Watch the racquet warp above his glare, fighter pilot’s propeller throttling on the ascent, dent after dent in his opponent’s confidence, winners he’s no right to hit. Who wouldn’t want to watch that, grit and graft above effortless grace? Beauty’s for amateurs; success a story of setback, repetition. Persistence makes the moment you’ll watch again and again, a burst of chalk or clay as time and space bend to make way.