spacer
The Vacuum - Issue 13 - Wonking with the Community spacer The Vacuum - Issue 13 - Wonking with the Community
Obscure Object of Desire
by Fionola Meredith
spacer
My last home was a rented ground-floor apartment in a large Victorian house off the Malone Road, memorable for its tall windows, parquet floors and pervading sense of decaying grandeur. Part of what I loved about this place was the garden that adjoined it a hidden, sunlit nook surrounded by mature sycamore trees. In the spring and summer months, I would use the garden for reading, sunbathing, writing, eating and t'ai chi. It was a beautiful green space to play and work.
spacer
In this garden was a huge Chinese lantern tree (crinodendron hookerianum), an exotic plant with sinister, pointed dark green leaves. In the summer it was covered with hundreds of fat, juicy candy-pink flower buds, each one the shape and colour of a glowing paper lantern. The texture of these buds was exquisite they had the fresh, almost pearlised, quality of a baby's skin combined with the waxy firmness of cartilage. Suspended tantalisingly on coarse stems, the nipple-like blooms dangled provocatively among the dark shiny leaves.
spacer
Have you ever seen something that is so explicitly sensuous it cries out to be touched? That's what these buds were like. You couldn't not give them a tender little caress every time you walked past them.
spacer
It wasn't long before I felt tempted to put one in my mouth. (Fascinating, how the oral phase of babyhood - when the desire to explore every encountered object with the mouth and tongue is overwhelming never really goes away, but lurks latently in the psyche, waiting to pop up again when you least expect it.) Surreptitiously, I reached up and closed my lips around one of the cool pink buds. It was flavourless and odourless, but it felt very satisfying sitting plumply on my tongue.
spacer
But suddenly I became aware of someone peering through the branches at me. It was my landlord, an elderly and rather frail academic who lived in the second floor of the house. He stood there quizzically, not quite meeting my eye, a pair of gardening shears in his hand. Delicately and with hastily summoned composure - I popped the bud out of my mouth, nodded formally to him and walked briskly away.
spacer
I haven't indulged the desire to put flowers in my mouth since. Getting caught by the landlord felt a bit too in flagrante. And I expect he didn't approve of his tenants sucking the shrubs. But I have planted a small Chinese lantern tree in my new garden. That way I'll have a source of forbidden fruit for my own private pleasures, away from prying eyes.
spacer
spacer
home | information | issues | artists & writers | columns | reviews
spacer