Simone Webb, Ambition, 2017 (Artist Website)
Print on aluminum
100 x 120cm

1. Bloodflower: Asclepias curassavica

Also known as scarlet milkweed, the bloodflower attracts the golden wings of Monarch butterflies, but contains chemicals which will burn human eyes. You crushed the crimson petals into pulp, dragged their cool, fluorescent blood across my cheeks, so the soft fumes just scathed the milky surface of my pupils. There were still things left to be said. I spent half the day trying not to dissolve, the other tracing the dampening outline of you on my skin.

2. Foxglove: Digitalis purpurea

Digoxigenin is extracted from the slender throat of a foxglove. It is then made into medicine and injected into my abuela’s veins to keep her heart beating. In her blue gown, with the white glow of her hair, she is just another piece of the February sky. Her paper-lantern body is soaked with this floral poison; I imagine her filling with violet bulbs, her eyes purpleing, body opening in soft, toxic petals.

3. Mountain Laurel: Kalmia latifolia

In its velvet-pink slippers, it reminds me that there is still dancing, sky-bright fruit and cerulean oil paint. Thriving in the acridest black soil, the wide-lipped laurel will cause depression, paralysis, and ultimately death. I collect them by the fistful – an exchange for poison-sugared tongues, Tijuana theology in heroin-gold. I skirt a petal with my teeth, and laugh at the dusky hum of my pulse, unthreading.

4. Lily of the Valley: Convallaria majalis

Something about its wildeness reminds me of the bluest nights in Coyoacán, salt-air churning above our heads. Those unhinged stars we stitched to diagrams, overlapping, green leaves, my mother, grey haired, in her loose huipil. I saw the violence of living; the way the world swallows the world each night. Slipping from those sea-black stones, feet tangled in ribbons of undertow. There is nothing about falling that feels like love.

Kathryn Merwin