Because the poem I wrote over the course of the six-day feast of the Floralia is meant to be read as a single poem, rather than as six different poems, I thought I should put them all together here for you to enjoy in one sitting, if you so choose.
Flowers of Apotheosis
For fear, she was turned into a flower,
a tree on the water’s edge, a danger
to those who picked its leaves from bright bower.
Revelling Dionysos, no stranger
to nymphs nor transformations, was her peer;
and braying donkey far from the manger
sounded the alarm which came to her ear
of Priapus’ lustful approach; revile
was Lotis’ response, and she ran in fear
from what unchecked desire would defile
away to the safety of sandy shore–
her flower, born there, would spread to the Nile
and to India afar, and much more.
Flora met her, gently placed about her
a fair white mantle reaching to the floor,
and calmed her, bade her not in fear to stir,
but to stand upright and face pursuer,
and meet with beauty the slavering cur.
Lust was blinded, and unseen by viewer
Lotis’ blossom was saved from wrongdoer.
The sturdy Spartan youth, Hyakinthos,
was lucky that Apollon noticed him;
but, ill of fortune, jealous Zephyros
likewise admired his zeal and youthful vim,
and with a wind that put discus off course
made the light in his fair eyes to grow dim.
Before Apollon’s lovely face’s remorse
and his divine limbs caught his fallen form,
and lamenting nymphs in cries would grow hoarse,
Flora came to his side in petal’s storm
to transmute his wounds and blood to beauty,
and make his cold flesh in afterlife warm.
Her fragrant skin, scented sweetly fruity
revived his senses, returned him his soul–
now his transformation was her duty.
For every victory a flowered stole
she placed about his frame, and stacked up high
his frame from head to waist surrounded whole
with blossom garlands pleasing to the eye,
memorials for Apollon’s deep sigh.
A tamarind tree, its branches with fruits
was the result when Osiris was killed,
sealed tight in drifting wood without true roots
as slowly his lordly lungs became filled
no longer with breath, instead with water
along Nile’s banks with ibises sharp-billed.
Not a blue, white, nor red lotus–hotter
than all other flowers with lion’s blood–
did he become, causing search of daughter
of Nut and Geb, far away from the flood
in Egypt, and far too from the rushes
of papyrus reeds, the trees limbs would bud
fragrantly, despite Set’s weapons’ crushes
upon his limbs, the gift of Flora’s grace
enfolded him in bark, his skin brushes
against hers to take root in a fair place
blessed with beauty, fit for children of kings,
and his tree would come before royal face…
but Isis, ever-loyal, to him brings
renewal more joyous than sun of Springs.
Dian Cécht did not like the cure given
to Núada’s arm by Míach’s great skills,
and so by Flora Miach was shriven
when Dian Cécht’s sword his skillful son kills.
Whatever the reason his life cut short
the grace of Flora over his form spills,
and transforms flesh to herb and bone to wort
and every drop of blood to shoots so sweet–
his life’s ending, and many more, to thwart.
What seemed cessation and death as defeat
was not so, for that which is cut grows back
and death fertilizes in soil of peat.
A god’s life and death fills in for a lack
even when it seems fullness is in place
and the chain of being falters, is slack…
the god’s body with healing filled the space
to win battles and flourish in the land,
though which herb was good for what left no trace:
taking the god himself to understand
the power to re-grow a severed hand.
Even in the salt sea, plants come to bloom,
the grey-blue waters give forth strands of green,
and though those persons may not meet their doom
by drowning, the favor of Flora’s seen
in the plants which grow strong in summer’s light.
The Maiden of Deception Pass would preen
after she went beneath the waves at bight
of Rosario on Fidalgo’s shore
to alleviate her people’s sore plight.
But Flora was not only in times yore
a shaper of bodies fallen and dead,
she was a hairdresser on ocean’s floor
for Kwekwálelwet, she brushed her sweet head
as she sighed watery breath–on the main
her breath was spray that in the sunlight spread,
and her hair became green, a verdant mane
trailing and traipsing throughout the waters,
teeming with life to ease the people’s strain–
from seagulls and mussels to sea otters–
and gave solace to fathers for daughters.
A final flourish, Flora felt she’d do
as ages shifted on an axis grand
and older ways and myths were smashed by new:
a boy who slew a lion at command
of his imperial lover, but near
to death it brought the boy in hunt to stand
against such a fierce creature–dread and fear
filled him but did not overwhelm his sense,
and, though wounded, the Emperor’s far leer
sighted and struck with spear and broke the tense
atmosphere with the lion’s death; then joy
came to all, and sacrifices, incense
were poured, burned, given. Yet the youthful boy
was not finished in overcoming trials…
and like Patroklos at battle of Troy
would fall and be mourned in grandest of styles
worthy of a god or hero, great ones
like Achilleus–more than scribe compiles
the litany of slain lovers long runs
beyond memory and poets’ powers,
the endless brave daughters and slaughtered sons–
but each would receive a gift, thus flowers
came for some, birds or stars for another.
And in the time between, the short hours
before he could wash, Nile waters smother
the dust and dirt, and takes the lion’s blood
and his own, Flora, all petals’ mother,
swirled about him in the river’s dark mud
and brought to bloom the red lotus in Nile
that praised him in scarlet each yearly flood
and remembered him, as runners raced mile:
Flora for Antinous gave her smile.