Linda Price

Floral Embrace

The woman in the wide floral skirt and white blouse crosses the bustling street.  Her eyes squint in the early morning light.  She clutches a straw basket to her heaving breast and peruses the swell of activity between haphazardly placed stalls.  In the distance she notices the broad colour and shape of flowers.

She reaches the pavement, scratches in her right pocket and pulls out a crumpled piece of paper.  Scrawled directives greet her gaze.  Apples; onions; tomatoes; leeks…How crushed she always feels at the market! Glancing over her sagging shoulders, she purses her lips and hedges forward.  She shuffles over sour milk that lies dehydrating in the mud as she ducks, bends and stretches to meet the objectives of her list.  She notices the broad colour and shape of flowers in the distance.

The woman never argues or begs. She is too preciously middle-class.  Surrounded by stalls brimming with fertility; bronzed muscle and glinting smiles, she clutches a pencil and ticks each item off before depositing it securely into her basket.  With jagged movements, she arches her limbs around and below beings, textures and objects.   The nape of her neck glistens with sweat and strands of hair stick to her skin. 

The woman reaches the flower seller.  The man rises from his wooden crate.  His straw hat frames a beaming face.  She notices the twitch of his veins as he fondles the stems of his magnificent creatures.  Tall, tapering stems and billowing folds of fragranced petals. 

The woman and man exchange few words.   She joins in the touch and caress until they reach a mutual transaction.  He hands her the chosen bunch. Crimson nestles firmly between them.  She presses the money into his open palm. 

The woman makes her way back through the throbbing action.  She crosses the busy road once again.  Her overflowing basket sways gently at her hip. The midday sun beats rhythmically against her body.  She can feel the sharp heat through the cotton that shields her shoulders and falls softly against her spine.  As her legs stride to and fro, blood tingles against her lily white thighs.  Pulsing vein and muscle bore into her heart as the heat rises and intensifies.  Her moist brow beats with the certainty that by sunset she will need more flowers. Their broad colour and shape shimmer in the distance.

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