My first sight of you still burns in my memory, dancing the excerpted Carina Burana piece like a living flame on the school stage, far too good for a mere school talent show. Your costume had those floating silk streamers all around you, red and yellow and purple, but made you look naked beneath those… or no, not naked, but certainly unclothed. Clad in your own glory. I could easily imagine that celibate monk, pent up for all his life in unyielding stone walls, pouring decades of aching loneliness and stifled movement into a vision like that.
Who could let such a vision go, even for God?
I tried to speak with you then, immediately after the show, but you were flush with your triumph and close-crowded with your friends and admirers. Off the stage as on it, you moved like a bright bird, swift and colorful. I couldn’t get close enough to make an impression on you then, which was as well since I would likely have made a bad one. Since I was forced to wait, I waited well, as I have all my life since, busily and productively.
Even then I had patience, and I had my father’s gardens and flower shop, and I had a measure of talent at arrangement. I knew a simple bouquet of flowers wouldn’t impress you, and a merely lavish one would be little better. I decided that with what I had, what small art and ability, I would try to recreate you, and show you yourself as you had appeared in my eyes.
All my art began there, a reflection of you that never let go.
I accepted a little technical help from my father, but the vision was mine. I made a steel wire frame to hold it, that looked like a sketch of you in motion – that was the hardest part, my father had to show me how to make it balanced and just sturdy enough. He helped me weave the light, thin copper extensions through the heavier wire to out-trail the yellow, red and purple trumpets of honeysuckle. It took me twelve days, even with his help, working before and after school, between helping in the shop and in the gardens, every minute of free time I had until I was forced to sleep or eat.
In the end it was fairly close to my original vision, a three dimensional sketch in the air of your grace in that dance, rendered in flowing vines of living flowers. It had been easy finding your address – I wasn’t the only one who wanted to send you floral tributes! It was a little trickier to manage the transportation and setup, but you had a closed dress rehearsal for the full performance, which only the participant’s parents were invited to watch. I planted the sculpture in your front yard, with a single spotlight placed so that floral-you appeared to be leaping over the light, and I sat on your doorstep, waited patiently in the shadows.
It was a triumph! I had been worried that your father or mother might not appreciate my guerrilla gardening, but they loved it. A reporter from the local newspaper had walked home with you and your parents, to interview you, and with her camera and notepad caught the moment of their and your shocked bemusement, and ended up interviewing me as well. The story ran with that picture and with one of you in front of your floral double, in the same pose; that second picture was picked up by the local television station, and from there it became a phenomenon. Fame came to the reporter for her story, to you for your dancing, and to me for my flower arrangements.
And fame never let us go.
Swarms of people came to see the Flower Girl’s performance, including talent scouts from dance companies who saw what I saw, and perhaps also a ticket draw, and your career was made. Swarms also came to my father’s flower shop, all too soon to be mine, and my career was also made, as the Flower Boy’s creations became de rigueur for celebrities and artists to have at their parties, their openings, the christening of their children, and as the years went by, their funerals. That reporter followed us both, in amongst other things, and kept us before the art world’s eyes, and her career was made in syndicated columns across the country.
We became deep friends, she and I. I know you two were friendly too, but your friendship was like your dancing, swift and light and beautiful and most of all fleeting, a thing of moments and places touched lightly and left behind, sometimes revisited but never stationary. My friendship with her grew more slowly, but became rich and deep, and we very nearly married each other. I am a slower, more earthbound type, and my heart is given slowly if at all. Except that once, when your beauty staked it.
It has never let me go, and I am forever gripped in thorns.
All my art was of you, always; every graceful turn of bough, every spray of florets, every dancing stalk. It has brought me joy, to create all that beauty, and the beauty brought fame, and the fame wealth; my commissioned works alone would have made me wealthy, let alone my empires of floristry and gardening supply stores. And with that wealth, here in my country home, I have built a private garden, a quiet grove about a tranquil pond, and all around lithe trees dance in the slightest wind; each has been shaped by my vegetable love to your form, and though our mutual friend told me years, decades past that you are gone, dead, that you are lost to me forever, you are not. You are not.
You dance about me always, and I will never let you go.