Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Alstroemeria"

This poem is spillover from the November 5, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by [personal profile] curiosity and Anonymous. It also fills the "Challenging" square in my 10-31-19 card for the People-watching Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] fuzzyred, [personal profile] erulisse, and [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to the Rutledge thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Alstroemeria"

[Saturday, May 3, 2014]

When a hundred Syrian refugees
had moved into Rutledge, Vermont,
Charis sent flowers to welcome them,
cheer them up, and hopefully attract
some new customers to her flower shop.

She sent multicolored freesias for
friendship and thoughtfulness,
alstroemeria for prosperity and
fortune, sprigs of baby's breath
for freedom and innocence.

Each week when Charis brought
fresh bouquets to Family Business Rest,
people greeted the flowers with smiles
and came forward to choose some.

One morning in May, the bell above
the front door of Say It With Flowers
jingled with its cheerful greeting.

Charis looked up from her work
at the checkout counter to see
one of the Syrian women --
Ghaliya, that was her name.

She had fair skin and dark hair,
and wore a white dress with
a lacy gray cardigan over it,
moving hesitantly through
the displays of flowers.

"Good morning," Charis said.
"Do you want to browse, or
would you like some help?"

"Help, I think," said Ghaliya.
"I need ... different flowers?"

"You don't like the alstroemeria
anymore?" Charis said. "I
thought that was your favorite."

"I love it," Ghaliya said. "I just
miss the wildflowers from Syria.
As a girl, I would run through
the hills above my village
and see them blooming."

"Okay, let's work with that,"
Charis said. "I may not have
Syrian wildflowers, but I can
probably find something similar
in my stock here. We could
also make or buy silk flowers."

"Fresh today, please," said Ghaliya.

"What kind of flowers do your people
generally like?" Charis asked her.

"Some of the same ones as your people,"
Ghaliya said. "We love sunflowers, asters, roses,
lilies, gerbera daisies, and chrysanthemums.
Jasmine is almost everyone's favorite."

"Most of those are common, although
jasmine is harder to get," Charis said.
"If you went into the hills by your village,
what would you pick to make a bouquet?"

"Hyacinths or tulips in spring," said Ghaliya.
"Later on, hibiscus or wild orchids, with
sprigs of Lebanon cedar for green."

"Well, it's not from Lebanon but I do
have cedar," Charis said. "Hasn't Elry
been sending pots of tulips and hyacinths
from Green Mountain Yard & Garden?"

"Yes, I have a pot," said Ghaliya.

"Do you have a particular message
in mind for a bouquet?" Charis asked.

Ghaliya looked pensive. "Yes.
I need flowers for mourning."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Charis said.
"Has someone passed away?"

"The rest of my family died on
the way out of Syria," said Ghaliya.
"I will see them again, of course,
but for now I need time to grieve.
The support group helps, but ...
most of them have different beliefs."

"Oh?" Charis said in a leading tone.
Being a good florist required listening.

Ghaliya looked over her shoulder, then
confided, "We are Druze. We always find
each other. It will just be difficult for me
to get a husband so they can be reborn.
There are only two other Druze families
here, and the oldest unmarried male
is fifteen." She shook her head.

"That sounds challenging,"
Charis said. "Tell me more?"

"Life in America has many challenges,
but good things too," Ghaliya said.
"I feel safe enough that I can finally
deal with things I had put away in
my heart. I just need help to bring
them out where I can see them."

"Hence the flowers," Charis said.
"I make funeral arrangements.
I'm sure we'll think of something."

"At home -- back in my village, I
would pick Syrian bear's breech,
a sort of thistle whose thorns stand
for mourning and desolation, but also
for the wilderness," Ghaliya said.

"I have an idea," Charis said.
"Come and look at the cooler."
She pointed out a blue thistle
in a bouquet. "Would that work?"

"Yes!" Ghaliya exclaimed.

"All right, we'll build a bouquet
around that," Charis said. "Can
you give me a budget for it?"

"Perhaps ... twenty dollars?"
Ghaliya said. "The stipend is
not much, but this is important."

"No problem," Charis said.
"Blue thistle is affordable, and
we'll just choose others to match."

Overhead, shrieks of laughter and
stampeding feet made her pause.

"Baby?" Ghaliya said, looking around.

"Yes, his name is Vennie and we just
adopted him a few months ago," Charis said.
"We have three older boys too -- Carlos and
Carmelo are seven-year-old twins, and Hua is
a toddler. My husband Gilman is supposed
to take them out to the park today, but it
sounds like things got a bit delayed."

"Children are a blessing, even when
they make a fuss," said Ghaliya.
"Someday, I will have my own."

"That gives me an idea," said Charis.
"Let's add some baby's breath to
your bouquet. That symbolizes
everlasting love, reconnection with
lost family members -- and babies."

"It sounds perfect," Ghaliya said.

"A sprig of lavender alstroemeria
for color, and I think we're done,"
Charis said. "That would be $10 for
the bouquet, or for a little more
you could add a vase --"

"I have a vase," Ghaliya said.
"I kept the first one you gave me."

"I'm happy to hear that," Charis said.
"I sent simple vases so they would
work with any small bouquet. Give me
a few minutes in back and I'll have
your flowers ready for you."

She crossed the design room
to the cooler, where she selected
a sprig of blue thistle and another
of lavender alstroemeria, several of
baby's breath, and a bit of cedar.

Moving over to her work area,
she assembled them into a bouquet
whose soft colors and airy flowers
suggested a misty spring day.

Finally she wrapped it up in
gray tissue paper with ribbons
of lavender, blue, and white.

When Charis returned to
the front of the shop, she found
Ghaliya browsing the lookbooks.

"Looking for something else?"
Charis said, ringing up the bouquet.

"I was just thinking, my English is good,
but not everyone's is," said Ghaliya.
"If people could look at pictures, that
would help, but without the flowers
they know from home ..." She gave
a helpless shrug. "... perhaps not."

"It wouldn't be hard to make
a new lookbook for Syrians,"
said Charis. "Print pictures of
the flowers from your homeland,
and match them to flowers available
here, with their symbolism and prices.
We could work on that together,
if you'd like to help me with it."

Ghaliya smiled. "Thank you,"
she said. "I think I'd like that."

* * *

Notes:

Ghaliya Saleh -- She has fair skin, black eyes, and long straight hair of coffee brown. She is sturdy with a heart-shaped face. Ghaliya grew up in a little farming village near As Suwayda, Syria, in the Mt. al-Duruz area. The Syrian war drove her out of her home, and she moved to Rutledge, Vermont. Ghaliya is a farmer. As a girl, she loved to run through the hills above her village and look at the wildflowers. Now she is exploring the wildlife of Vermont.
Origin: She was born with her abilities.
Uniform: Ghaliya wears women's clothes, often in neutral colors, and she loves natural motifs of plants and animals.
Qualities: Good (+2) Existential Intelligence, Good (+2) Farmer, Good (+2) Nature Lover, Good (+2) Optimist, Good (+2) Survivor
Poor (-2) Misses Syria
Powers: Good (+2) Druze
The Druze of Terramagne are not quite as isolationist as those of local-Earth. They simply define their community by the ability to reincarnate together on purpose; they can always find each other. They don't think of it as a superpower, partly because it's their religion and partly because all of them can do it, although most other people cannot. While they prefer to reproduce with each other, they can catch a lost relative with a non-Druze mate if no other Druze are available, and occasionally children with Druze memories come in from outside having gotten tired of waiting for an available conception. They integrate with surrounding cultures, but one reason they prefer not to marry out is because they don't want to get attached to people they'll never see again after the end of this life. It's kind of like folks who avoid short-lived pets.
Motivation: To restore her people.

As-Suwayda is a city in southwestern Syria, close to the border with Jordan, primarily populated by Druze.

The Druze of Syria make up about 3.2% percent of the Syrian population, roughly 700,000 people. They share a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Hamza ibn-'Ali, al- Hakim, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and Akhenaten. The Epistles of Wisdom is the foundational text of the Druze faith. The Druze faith incorporates elements of various other faiths. In Terramagne this is because on rare occasions they absorb new people into their fold, who bring in new customs. They believe in reincarnation


Carlos Green -- He has light brown skin, black eyes, and short curly hair of chestnut brown. He is the adopted son of Gilman and Charis, older twin brother of Carmelo, older brother of Hua and Vennie. They live in Rutledge, Vermont. Carlos and Carmelo are not quite identical -- Carlos has lighter coloring -- but they look very similar. They are 7 years old. Carlos' favorite color is blue. He is mischievous. He enjoys watching birds with his father. Carlos struggles with reading, and has a tutor in school who helps him figure out ways to cope with that challenge.
Qualities: Good (+2) Mischievous, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Reading

Carmelo Green -- He has light brown skin, black eyes, and short curly hair of coffee brown. He is the adopted son of Gilman and Charis, younger twin brother of Carlos, older brother of Hua and Vennie. They live in Rutledge, Vermont. Carlos and Carmelo are not quite identical -- Carmelo has darker coloring -- but they look very similar. They are 7 years old. Carmelo's favorite color is pink. He enjoys helping his mother in the flower shop. He is the class clown. Carmelo flounders in math, and has a tutor in school who shows him how to illustrate math problems with pictures or manipulatives so they make more sense.
Qualities: Good (+2) Class Clown, Good (+2) Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Hua Green -- He has pale golden skin, black eyes, and short straight hair of coffee brown. He is 3 years old. He is the adopted son of Gilman and Charis, younger brother of Carlos and Carmelo, older brother of Vennie. They live in Rutledge, Vermont. Quiet and reserved with people, Hua tends to learn about the world more by touching than by looking. This annoys a lot of folks.
Qualities: Good (+2) Quiet
Poor (-2) Touch-dominant

At 3 years, Hua can run, walk on tiptoes or heels, and track moving objects. He can use simple sentences, interact with adults and children, and follow simple instructions.


Vennie Green -- He has caramel skin, black eyes, and loosely nappy brown hair. He is 5 months old. He is the adopted son of Gilman and Charis, younger brother of Carlos and Carmelo, and Hua. They live in Rutledge, Vermont. An exuberant baby, Vennie explores the world with great enthusiasm. He shrieks a lot, though.
Qualities: Good (+2) Exuberant
Poor (-2) Noisy

At 5 months, Vennie can sit with hand suppor and reach to grasp objects. He can babble, show interest in toys, and recognize his immediate family.

* * *

Say It With Flowers has the flower shop on the first floor.

In the center of the display area, you can see where the middle wall ends. Behind that is the consultation area and the door that leads upstairs to the owner's apartment. The consultation area occupies a small alcove near the front display, with a table and chairs. Four rows of baling wire on the walls provide a place to clip inspirational images. Here you can see the cash register, display cooler, and ribbon station.

The design room in back has a packaging area with cabinets, counters, and a sink. Storage shelves line much of the design room. The storage cooler holds big buckets of loose flowers sorted by type. These are combined into bouquets for custom orders or to display in the front of the shop. The end of the office adjacent to the cooler has a dottie, with doors connecting the dottie both to the office and to the design room. In this picture, the office door is just to the right, behind the open design room door.

For the second floor plan, the exterior access goes from the space between the bathroom and staircase, wrapping around the side and back of the building. The living room and dining room fill one end of the great room, with the kitchen on the other end. The flex room is currently the plant room. The second floor bathroom also has plants.

The third floor plan includes the master bedroom and the boys' bedroom. A reading nook occupies the landing. The laundry closet is farther along the hallway.

This wide angle view shows the master bedroom. It has a fancy ceiling light. Pictures of birds hang above the bed, where the family dog likes to sleep. There are nightstands to the right and left of the bed. More art covers the left wall, mostly nature art. A chair occupies one corner, with a dresser beside it. Odds and ends cover the top of the dresser, like this birdcage with a taxidermied bird. The Paris cufflinks were a Cinq Francs specialty item several years ago. These are some of their books. This octopus painting was a gift to Charis, painted by one of her friends, who (she doesn't know) belongs to Kraken. The trunk belonged to an ancestress of Charis who came to the new world in hopes of finding a husband. Behind the curtain is the corner by the closet, which holds the baby's crib.

The master bathroom has double sinks, a toilet cubicle, and a walk-in shower.

The boys' bedroom has a floor bed and a loft bed.


Flowers make people happy. In spring, many cheap ones bloom.





Alstroemeria is small and colorful, available in many shades. It's the flower of prosperity, fortune, and friendship, so a great fit for a wedding day.

Blue thistle is popular but still affordable. The Bible refers to "thistles and prickles" as representing desolation or wilderness, with about 20 words relating to some sort of prickly or thorny plant.

Baby's breath is light and airy.

Freesia lasts a long time and comes in various colors.

While the Syrian government has not named a national flower officially, Syrians consider jasmine as their national flower. Among the native flowers are hyacinths, Lebanon cedar, Hibiscus syriacus, tulips, damask roses, carnations, cabbage flowers, and various varieties of orchids. Popular gift flowers include
gerberas, sunflowers, asters, lilies, and chrysanthemums.

The Rose of Sharon is mysterious.

Acanthus syriacus, Syrian bear's breech, symbolizes mourning, desolation, wilderness, stability, and survival.

The component flowers in Ghaliya's bouquet cost about $1 each, so even after adding in labor, taxes, etc. $10 for a small bouquet is quite feasible.

Thistle – Blue Dynamite
$5.40 - 5 Stems

Alstroemeria – Napoli
$5.65 - 7 Stems

Babies Breath New Love
$10.99 - 1 Growers Bunch

Western Red Cedar Bouquet Grade
CURRENT PRICE: $49.98 ($1.00/ea) -- (50 stems)

A lookbook is a binder of photographs compiled to present options, in this case flower arrangements, for visual inspiration.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, weblit, writing
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