KSPC’s latest installment of The Interchange, our Public Affairs program, featured the work of Stephanie Huang, whose poem “Flora” can be found below.
“I’m a sophomore at Scripps majoring in Media Studies and minoring in Poetry. For me, poetry is an outlet gives form to thoughts that I didn’t know I had and clarifies emotions that I can’t exactly identify – it’s magical like that. I have a penchant for greek yogurt, daisies, and synthesized music!”
The quintessential question
a boy must ask a girl, a special girl:
Whatâ€™s your favorite flower?
Lilac, lavender, and lilies of the valley,
primrose, pansies, and pink peonies,
Jacobâ€™s ladder, Ladyâ€™s mantle.
The more extravagant, the better, he thinks,
Each flower should mean something,
white chrysanthemums to say goodbye.
yellow roses for jealousy,
So caught up we are
in what it means to mean.
What does it mean to have twenty-six flecks
of pollen, rather than fourteen?
Losing ourselves in the stuff
of the microscopic sortâ€”
yellow freckles on red skin,
orange snowstorms amid blue skies.
What does it mean when she says hello,
rather than hi, he asks.
I think it means what it means.
My favorite flowers are daisies because they are
They sprinkle the spring grass with snow,
they pale next to the grandiose beauty of roses in
bloom.Â I like to think of them as the underdog, the
All the more likable because of how
simpleÂ theyÂ are.
Thereâ€™s this silk rose corsage I haveâ€”layers and
layers of baby pink attached to aÂ black elastic
band. A year old, it sits atop the graceful neck of a
glass bottle, petals ready to be petted between my
forefinger and thumb. False delicacy of thin
fabric, pretense of fragilityâ€”I use it as a hair tie.
Unlike real flowers, its rosiness never subsides, its
fluttery petals, like moth-wings, never choose to die.
Flower in my hair, I cannot say the same about the
one, with pianistâ€™s hands, that first slipped you
onto my wrist.
Petals caught between strands, tresses snagged in
branches, yellow pollen in black hair.Â What drew
me to wearing garlands, to weaving daisy chains,
was just the same as what drew me to faeries and
nymphs and elves. Dreams of every little girl, of
every grown woman.
My nine-year old self wanted to wear white
flowers in my hair, wanted to paint my nails
white. You canâ€™t, my mother said â€“ why not, I
Itâ€™ll mean someone has just passed away; youâ€™ll
give granny a fright.
The first time I attended a funeral was when I lost
Chinese funeral bouquets of assorted blooms,
weaved baskets rising taller than me, reds and
yellows for happiness, good fortune, and royalty.
Yellow, gold, é»„, the color of the king is my last
name, but not my grandfatherâ€™s.
The smell of lilies and roses consumes the room,
and I canâ€™t stop associating it with death. Scent so
strong, my nose stings, and if I werenâ€™t already
crying, the acridity would bring tears to my eyes.
Itâ€™s my turn to lay a single flower upon my
grandfatherâ€™s body, his skin petal-thin, peaceful
face painted with rosiness for the ceremony.
Flowers wilt, flowers turn crunchy.
Lilac blossoms tinted gray,
white buds now mustard.
Shedding wrinkled tissue paper,
dead blooms rustle,
plastic bags in the wind.
You can listen to Stephanie’s reading of her poem in addition to the rest of the show below.