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Glass Flowers On Dena Kahan's Glass Garden paintings

See Glass Garden paintings


Alchemical vessels
imbued with rumours of colour –
a pearly acorn-brown,
tinctures of amber, buff-white:

the Trickster, light,
mixing it up, sheathing
each sculpted bloom in  
the glow of other objects;

even the innermost
whorl, the nectary,
endowed with   
moody brilliance.


It cannot do harm:
fill them with pure water
then from a glass straw

sip the essence
of these flawless ghost-flowers
given body by breath.

As each goblet empties,
a volatile perfection
is restored;

ethereal dabs
and baubles gleam,


Or, ply a window box of them
with graduated heights of water,
take a silver baton
and start the music:

a choir of glass flowers
voicing songs of
rootless transcendence.

Wind-chimes under the ocean.


A time-lapse camera
would show these flowers
in violent metamorphosis:

tarry with darkness,
slicked by ivory moonlight,
dawn’s lava-red –

always in transit, becoming...
always, even when knifed by sun glare,
sealed, silent.


Seeded in fire,
amaryllis, iris, orchid –

sleek-skinned botanical studies  

as vacant as living flowers are lush,
as brittle as living flowers are yielding.

Hothouse simulcra,
they lean towards windows
blank with rain; 
bronze with day's last embers.


In art’s parallel universe
a flower can tilt up from a bench top

and grow from it –
eerily resplendent;

return the beholder's gaze 
with silken candour.  


Each unfurled bloom,
each bud, enshrines
a Janus-truth:

sepals, curlicues
of varnished air
wear and witness

flux, never-ending
illusion; stay in thrall
to stillness.

And the long stems
lit from within –

they too know the touch
of sky-shine, the quixotic
life of clouds.
Let’s call it
the provisional sublime.


The exquisite can be so cold.

But these sprays,
their silvery leaf-wings poised,

express a sunflower-yearning: 
rearing up, opening out,

as is the way of plant life
and of human desire –

so outright;
heroic, in a way

and, in the end, unanswerable.


Stillness invites space.

Museums are built around
such dreamed embodiments
   of the life we find here,
   of the life that finds us.

The glass flowers
offer themselves –
constructions of hope.

They have survived 
a seismic century.

Petals shaped like tongues,
like flames, radiate
from chambers of translucent