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  • Writer's pictureAubrey Clyburn

The Language of Flowers

Updated: Nov 15, 2020



I want to tell you about Van Gogh’s sunflowers. No, not those, but the ones I found in a museum in Switzerland when I was looking for reasons not to give up and stay in bed for the day, or the week, or possibly forever. I want you to imagine the dull brown warmth of them, the crinkling, sharp-shriveled petals, the listless, hypnotic dashes of pale yellow and watery green. I want you to have been there with me, walking from room to room of masterpieces with captions in a language we don’t speak, our feet heavy, our throats dry with silence, wondering if anyone else in the world has ever felt like this, so that when our eyes were captured by these dying sunflowers in their dark coffin-like frame, I could have grabbed your hand and stood there with you. We would have stood there for long minutes, absorbing into this painting, soaking in it. You would have looked at the caption for me, told me the date and the painter, and I would have stopped breathing when I remembered how he died. I want you to have seen those withering sunflowers so that I won’t have to explain in words how I felt then. I want to tell you about these shrunken heartbreaking flowers, and then I want to tell you that six months later I stumbled on one of their companions, bright yellow on a bed of happy blue.



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