We all know what it’s like to feel like an outsider of some form. Whether it’s being the black sheep of the family or not quite fitting into a circle of peers, sometimes we are put in situations where we can only observe. Jasmine Miranda’s “Wallflowers” beautifully portrays the outsider experience as her speaker, a wallflower, watches her “fellow decorations” dance around her.
Miranda’s poem expresses longing that we all find within ourselves at least once. Just as her speaker wishes to be “worthy to join the bouquet,” sometimes we long to have an opportunity to shine or simply join in. If you write, paint, or merely appreciate certain works, it can be so easy to be consumed by these artificial realms that living your actual life may be put on the backburner, or perhaps you’re not used to or have the flexibility to step out of your comfort zone and relax with other people. Even the Wallflower in Miranda’s poem pretends to be uninterested in the ongoings of the party, but her foot keeps “tip-tapping” to illuminate her desire to belong and to live.
There is nothing wrong with being passive, nor is there anything wrong with being an outsider, especially if we are not made one by choice. However, there is no denying that there is a need within all of us to have experiences even if someone, something, or we hold ourselves back. Miranda nicely sums this buildup of desire in her conclusion: “And I know I cannot miss what I’ve never had, / But I can surely wilt longing for it.” “Wallflowers” reminds readers about what missing out on experiences is like, but the poem also illustrates what it’s like to truly appreciate every single moment, regardless of whether we are the participants or just the bystanders.
If you’d like to read Miranda’s poem, here’s the excerpt from Obscura’s 3rd Volume:
I blend in with beige wallpaper.
My eyes search around the room—
I remain visibly aloof to swaying hips and bobbing heads,
But my foot betrays me, tip-tapping, hoping it will have its turn.
But, it seems it is not to be.
My fellow decorations are plucked up—
Having been deemed worthy to join the bouquet.
While I stand like a dandelion, more weed than flower.
The night ends, the couples split apart,
And the wonderful noise stops playing.
And I know I cannot miss what I’ve never had,
But I can surely wilt longing for it.
(Obscura Vol. 3, 2012, p. 26)