Under the fluorescence airport flora cease to feign excitement. Alone before an endless current of transient bipeds, airport flora know they will never blossom, never fruit, never be pollinated, for the wind and the tiny birds and the insects whose caresses and tendril tongues they covet are not there.
Rancid hydroponics; rarely do the big leaves blot beneath that constant excitement of tubular micro-suns, the glowing rods here and there aligned above savannahs of low-pile maroon carpet, or over rows of sleep-retardant seating, or there, encased, illuminating entreaties to rent a clean car, to be sufficiently insured, to be well-banked, the signage that humbly asks you to not fear, indeed, to love transnational company Y.
Once in a very long while, an elephant ear or a parlor palm is startled to flash erection, mistaking a blue-sky and seven gulls in an illuminated ad for anti-depressant X as the real deal. Most torturous was the campaign for a brokerage house in which a full-color, four-foot tall ruby-throated hummingbird thrust its beak deep inside the bell of a purple foxglove. Even the well-rooted veterans in the area had months of troubled dreams.
More commonly, of course, a businesswoman touching ground briefly in Atlanta before resting her head on a pillowcase in a quiet, decent suburb of Eugene, finds herself momentarily aghast when a misplaced sparrow cruises lengthwise the terminal, oblivious to the bookshop with the funereal feel, flies all the way down to baggage claim and comes to an airbrake halt before a wall of white melamine, then darts toward the automatic sliding glass doors on the upper level of domesticity, Arrivals Gates 41-53. There, headfirst the sparrow finds its end, smashed by transparency: for its mass is too small, its speed is too great for the glass guard’s sensor.
She (her name is Irene) is apprehended by this sight precisely between the moment she has placed her Styrofoam cup down on a tiny slab of vinyl horizontality adjacent her chair and the moment she leans to take a magazine from her bag: it is between these two actions she finds herself struck, not only because of something so terribly out of place, but because she knows, without thinking at all, that she does not see the sparrow, but the sparrowghost. Here, nature itself is inelastic, it cannot stretch, cannot show its languid self. Here there is no time for what one scientifically refers to as life—that delay, that essential dawdle and vacillation, the latent theater which occurs between meal and meal, between explosion and explosion, contraction and contraction, between one night and the next. Here there is only transparence, and what appears otherwise is strictly the ghost of a hydroponically devised leaf, shadowless, you’ll note.
"Airport Botany" is from a novel in progress titled fluorescence, which explores the limits and conceits of human will as we seek to control the forms of life around us. The work is illustrated by my brother, Guido Porto. Here are a few of the receptacles for the things that go bloom in said novel: [here]