Karma in New York reopens its gallery with
(Nothing But) Flowers, a collection of still lifes.
Scrolling through the exhibit online, I’m
desperate for outsize tulips, Nasturtium in a
Green Glass, the offhand intimacy of lilacs in
water. I settle for ordering the catalogue and
make do with whatever’s local.
To paint a flower: contained or set loose,
interior or no interior, a flattening or a
spectacle? The idea of improvisation as a kind of
conscientious reminder of how fragile everything is,
how unstable and unknowable.
When the catalogue arrives, I make a daily
thing of flipping to a random page and
observing what’s there: sill, table, mirror,
bevelled glass, dotted red and pink pitcher,
marble figure, linen napkin folded and placed
under a mason jar, knife with a wood handle,
beetroot, big potted palms, stones, shadows,
A petal drops from the real. A hand flings the
spent bunch out the window to co-mingle with
the other discards. Within a day, a fresh
arrangement assembles in the vase.
Sheryda Warrener’s third collection of poetry, Test Piece, is forthcoming from Coach House Books this fall. She lives on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded land of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, where she is a lecturer in poetry and interdisciplinary forms in the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.
The italicized lines are drawn from Faux Pas: Selected Writings and Drawings by Amy Sillman.