When we opened up our friend’s closed house, the first thing I noticed were the white remains of the Christmas cactus blooms. Underneath the shade-covered window, the dry-stalked hulls crumbled in my hands. Some now-white-past-prime blooms were still attached to the succulent plant. Succulent sounds like abundant water, but this spindly light green cactus was waiting for a drink from me.

I gathered up all the past blooms in my hands. One pricked the tender inside of skin between my thumb and index finger. How wonderful, I kept thinking, that this plant gave birth to at least 100 bright red blooms in this darkened house. It pulled sustenance from almost dry dirt and the moist ocean air. Our friend’s house is blocks from the Pacific Ocean. His home is always immaculate. The litter of maybe 100 past-prime now dissolving blooms is a picture I now carry with me.

We bloom for ourselves. We crave an audience, but the art is first and always made for ourselves. Who knows what the audience will do with our genius? The red blooms are often only seen by us, and they are still clearly glorious. Their remnants dissolve into the carpet, return to the earth. I’m not sure what these remains will make next.

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