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Musing on Blue Violets

  I sent a long love letter to someone; I sent it to the wrong person. The wrong person responded as the right person. It was difficult to read. I was reading words to me as if I were the right person. She responded with an open heart; she exposed herself with little hesitation, tore down her own walls, answered where the other person was supposed to. She took my words as hers, gave her words to me, exposing me further after thinking I had nothing left to give. She believed in her response, forcing me to believe in it just the same, denying me my ability to look away. I owed her my attention. I reread my letter. The places where she once never existed, I could now only see her. Was I there that night he speaks of? Of course I was, or else he would not speak of it; and I would not have this response to offer him. If this is what he meant, then this is what he shall receive from me. I was certain I was there that night and that she was not; it was before I even knew her. But now there she was, there in my words. I read about her, in that moment meant for someone else. There was nothing I could do. I had to be honest and say it wasn’t meant for you, that I had made a mistake. She said she didn’t believe in mistakes. I said I make them often; she said she didn’t believe that either. I thought about what I had written while...

Ariane Vielmetter: Blue Violets

  The German expression for coded, indirect communication is to speak durch die blume, or “through the flower.” Conversely, to state something bluntly is to say it unverblümt, or to “de-flower” one’s speech. The term most likely originated from the Victorian practice of floriography, which assigned symbolic meanings to hundreds of flower species. Bouquets and floral arrangements became a way to articulate complex sentiments, and to communicate implicit or even socially unacceptable messages. “Nosegays” and “tussy-mussies” were exchanged between lovers and friends, and the small bouquets were worn as fashionable accessories close to the body. Mrs. Mary Delany was an 18th century English woman of minor noble rank who was married when she was still a teenager to a member of parliament more than four decades her senior, a contract that was supposed to elevate her family’s slipping socioeconomic standing. In her unhappy marriage, she devoted herself to her journal, her letters of correspondence with friends, and to the crafts that were considered appropriate for a woman in her position. She was a keen observer of details and a skillful practitioner of many art forms including shell work, embroidery, needlework, silhouettes, gardening, drawing, and writing. Her talents compelled her to make acquaintances with the musicians, poets, and botanists supported by the court. When her first husband finally passed away, she was able to use her deft social skills and her expertise in the domestic arts to engage with the literary and scientific community, all without actually breaching any social boundaries.  In her late life, she pioneered the art of the “paper mosaic,” a technique that combined elaborate painting, cutting, and...

Spectrum for an Untouchable: Meital Yaniv

I’m pretty sure he was trying to beat the red light. I’m pretty sure she thought he was going to stop. He didn’t stop, and neither did she. He struck the front of her truck; his motorcycle went way beyond where he went, but he went far too. He landed close to my door, to my left. My friend asked if I had seen what had just happened. I looked at the man. I asked my friend what he meant. He said that truck just hit that guy on the motorcycle and his bike is way over there and he is right there lying on the ground. I looked at the man: black pants, black shirt and black helmet. I asked my friend if it was real. He started to breath heavy. I didn’t know if I should get out of the car. People started to gather, it felt like there was nothing I could do. I looked down at the man wondering if he was real, wondering if he was alive. Through my window, I heard the man ask another man if his arm was missing, the stranger responded, no it’s just broken. The blood slithered out from under his helmet onto the sidewalk. I didn’t hear any other words, and I didn’t see any more movement; but he still had his arm. My friend was freaking out. At that point, I was trying to be okay. When I had asked Meital Yaniv a little over a week ago what her writing was about, she said it was about Israel. When I told her I felt like I...