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The main thing I’ve realized is that the sepals of a sunflower — those green petal-shaped things, that lie right under the petals — are the most beautiful part of the whole. The flowers themselves are unambiguously yellow and cheery — bright and turning to face the sun, is there anything more cliched? — but the sepals are more nuanced. The flat portion curls at the edges, and the end tapers to a curvaceous point. It’s like an artist saving the flourishes for a quiet corner of the canvas.

The sepal is the protective layer when the flower is in bud form. As the flower opens, I can picture the sepal tearing open, and with the tension released from the inside, the curls and tapers must form, as if by spring action. Sepals too must obey the laws of physics.

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Amidst their prettiness, it is easy to forget that the primary function of a flower is procreation. And so the stamens and carpels are not to be dissed. These are the fine structures in the middle of the flower, charged with propagating the species, ready to sprinkle all over the surroundings, hoping to bring to life new plants and future flowers with their own stamens and carpels — but their efforts are ultimately thwarted in this case, thanks to being stuck in a water bottle on my dining table.
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Though I call them cliched, I don’t want to give short shrift to the petals. Their yellowness is the kind one wants to swim in, bathe in. For the week that those five flowers were on my table, the entire scene looked so elegant, especially while looking in from the window, that a passerby would be forgiven for thinking that an entirely more sophisticated person than yours truly inhabited that space. That yellow made me appear classy, even to my own eyes. Now that they’re gone, I kind of miss that.

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(Here is the complete Perfection series.)

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