Un Enfant des Fleurs

     He is a flower boy, if there ever was one.  They drip from his skin, limpid and drooping.  As if he saps the very life out of them with his smile.  It does not look like he can hold an inch of malice in his bones; his eyes shine wild, his lips beguiling, his breaths half-spent.  And yet.  The flowers drip from him, wrap their roots up his arms and around his toes, rooting into his skull.  He tilts his head to the back, parting his lips as his fingers move up to graze his cheek.  Daisies curl from behind his ears.  They are shy.  The roses around his neck aren’t; they kiss the skin like it is their sun and strength.

     If he looks distracted some of the time and half-mad the rest, there is the reason.

     His hair is dark like the earth. It falls in front of his face, a tangle of ivy and snap dragon.  His eyes are earth-brown too, though in those there are flecks of ore in them.  One almost expects little mushrooms to pepper his tongue.  “That’s absurd,” he says with a laugh, “They can’t grow there.”  Ignore the way he speaks around his tongue.  If this flower boy wants some secrets, so be it. 

     Ignore the sores on his skin as well, they mar his beauty.  They hide in the crook of his elbow, the bridge of his nose, the line of his calf.  They are placed among freckles and smudges of dirt.  His smile tightens when a root brushes against one.  A pea plant has wound its way around his wrist, settling over one of those little sores, now continually festering.  He says, “It’s nothing.”  His hand gestures off into the depths of the green house, scattering seeds with it.  They hit the floor; pip, pip, pip.  The sound seems to catch in his ears.  He laughs.  The rustle of plants is the undercurrent.

     If he shrieks, “Cut me out, please, oh god, cut me out,” in a moment of frightening insanity—his pupils blown out, and hands scrabbling at the sides of his chair, with head thrown back and eyes that probe deep in desperation—pay no mind.  It is only the nectarines talking.

     He quiets.  Once again his beguiling smile returns, his wild eyes and half-spent breaths with it.  A cluster of Queen Anne’s lace curls around his ankle.  If they whisper to him, their voices do not make a sound.  But the angle of his smile says everything.