He wakes me at four. With heavy lids and stifled yawns we spill into the cold morning car. But we are going to the lotus fields! One must always greet the blooming lotus at dawn, he says, so we set off beneath the brightening chemical fog of early weekend traffic.
The promise of blushing pink meadows laid out before our wondering eyes turns into a vision of half-hearted, drooping blossoms, wan petals dropping to the muddy shadows of oppressive leaves.
The lotus farmer appears out of his fields from nowhere, ancient shears in hand. A flower for a flower, he says, offering a rusted, lopped-off lotus lily by its indecently long stem. I accept his gift, repressing the urge to pull up a giant leaf and offer it in return.
I clutch the ridiculous, tired flower all the way home. It is no longer fresh with dew and the stem pricks.
In a bottle of water at last, my blossom droops wistfully. An identical lily hangs its head in the mirror, lamenting her deflowering. The flower sheds a trembling petal onto my hand. Not this ... not this ... The skin on my wrist blends into the texture of its velvety flesh, a patch of dappled pink membrane. I peer into the lily’s womb with its ring of yellow stamens—too early in her life it was too late. All night long the petals fall, soundless, to the table. Dreams take me to older fields and remembered loves, as the petal of my hand falls lightly away.