Whiteout Wednesday

Something different again tonight, called Whiteout Wednesday, which I discovered via like mercury colliding, but it’s run by Black Cat Alley. Each Wednesday, a passage of text is published and the challenge is to ‘white-out’ the text you don’t want to create a new story. This week’s text is from Tova Martin’s Romance in Bloom: Plants with Ties to Love or Heartache. I really like this idea and given I have to write an experimental poem before the end of April, I might investigate this further.

My reworked piece is an attempted history lesson on Egypt, Poland and India, including the Indians’ love of the Chinese, with the last sentence a reflection on the Christmas spirit. The punctuation is almost all there, just a little out of place. If you drag your cursor to highlight, you can see the words I’ve redacted.


The blossoms of love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) are surrounded by a nest of lacy, thread-thin leaves that form a mist (and let’s face it, mists in themselves are romantic). The flowers are white, pink, or blue and star-shape; blowfishlike seed heads prolong the charm. Plus, in ancient Egyptian times, the seeds were advertised as producing a certain plumpness that was fashionable in antiquity. No one really knows when the name love-in-a-mist became affixed. When the herbals—books describing plants for medicinal purposes—were written in the late 16th century, nigella was love-entangle or, less poetically, devil-in-the-bush and St. Katherine’s flower. But due to the newer nickname’s descriptive charm, it has stuck throughout the centuries.


Some romantic names are shrouded in mystery. That would be the case for lovage, Levisticum officinale. Lovage is derived from love-ache, ache being a medieval name for its relative, parsley, which the plant resembles. The Czechs call it libeček, and in Poland it is known as lubczyk; both translate as love herb. There’s a lot to like about lovage. Although it is not a particularly stunning plant, it is perennial, and it can reach impressive heightsreputedly topping off at 10 feet, which would read like a 10-foot-tall celery from a distance. The fragrance is also akin to celery with a hint of anise tossed in. At one time lovage was made into cordials and teas as well as purportedly possessing many medicinal attributes.


Love-in-a-puff (Cardiospermum) was introduced in 1504 from India (where it is considered sacred, according to Henderson’s Handbook of Plants), the minute white flowers of Cardiospermum weren’t sufficient to win this wayward vine any sort of romantic connotation. But wonderful celery-green Chinese lanternlike seed capsules follow closely on the heels of flowers. And inside those inflated seedpods sits a trio of pealike seeds. Each matte-black seed is marked with a distinct creamy-white heart. Which goes to show you: Even within the most modest wrapping beats a strong heart.