AN: To Jamie. As promised for a wedding present...Queen Anne's Lace.
Seeley Booth scanned into the examination platform at the Jeffersonian Institute's Medico-Legal lab, file folder in hand on their latest case. A body was found by a couple of picnickers in Michigan, shielded by some tall blooming plants. As he bound up behind the team, he clapped his hands together and looked over at the examination table housing the body.
"Okay people, what have we got?" Brennan looked up from the remains for a moment, meeting the eye of her partner.
"Female, mid to late twenties of Caucasian descent. The initial examination shows no trauma to the bones that would indicate a cause of death."
"So what, no kerf marks or radiating fractures from the occipital? Nothing?"
"Very good Booth, but no, there's no sign of bone trauma at all. Cam took some tissue samples to analyze and Angela is currently waiting to see if there's a match to her dentals, and until the results come in, I have nothing for you."
"So there's no indication of foul play at all?"
"Nothing at all. The body was found in a field along with a few bits of clothing and a book of poetry."
"Really? What poet, or was it a collection of different works?"
"It's the collected works of William Carlos Williams."
"Wow, he's my favorite. Was the book open, or closed when it was found?" Angela scanned onto the platform, dental x-rays in hand. She looked at Booth curiously as she stepped up to a computer and called up a missing person's file.
"I wouldn't peg you as someone who reads poetry Booth, although being the closeted romantic that you are, I shouldn't be surprised," the artist said as she looked over the information on the file.
"I'll have you know that my senior thesis in college was an analysis of modernism in American Poetry. Williams was one of the main founders for the modernist movement." Booth hitched his thumbs under the edge of his belt as his chest swelled out a bit. He might not have all the scientific knowledge that the squints had, but he'd be damned if they knew more about poetry than he did.
"I never took you as someone so in touch with their feminine side Booth," Hodgins said as he carried the book over to the examination table. "You always seem a little too, you know, alpha for that."
"Look, just because I like reading doesn't mean I'm effeminate, okay?" Brennan looked at Booth and frowned.
"The last thing that I recall you reading was a comic book."
"It wasn't a comic book, okay? It was a graphic novel, and anyway, you can learn a lot about someone by how they interpret what the author puts on the page. Now, was the book open to anything specific, or was it closed?" He looked at Hodgins, waiting for a response from the entomologist. Hodgins only smirked as he flipped open the thick book.
"When we received the remains, the book was closed, but it falls open easily to 'Queen Anne's Lace'. Judging by the amount of particulates, I'd say that poem was the last thing our vic read before she died. Ironic seeing as she was found in a field of Daucus carota."
"In English, Hodgins," Cam said from her corner of the platform. Jack sighed and pointed to the pages in the book.
"She was found in a field of Queen Anne's Lace. It's a type of wild carrot that blooms in July and August; the stem holds several smaller flowers that make up the bloom." Angela glanced from Hodgins to Booth, a questioning expression on her face.
"Do you think the poem has anything to do with how this woman died?"
"I don't really see how. The poem is about making love, the imagery is actually quite erotic as it follows the blooming of the flower as an allegory to reaching orgasm."
"You are unbelievable, you know that?" Booth glanced at his partner with a frown.
"What are you talking about?"
"You get uncomfortable if anyone talks about sex, but discussing it in conjunction with poetry and suddenly you can discuss intercourse?"
"She's right Booth. You usually are much more embarrassed when discussing sex," Angela said while looking at the FBI Agent. "What makes poetry so different?"
"Are you serious? Look, whenever you guys discuss it, it's usually inappropriate and I don't need to know that much about the people that I work with, okay? When it's poetry, you're seeing how the author and the reader see sex. Is it compared to flowers or something dark and sinister? Is the interpretation that of sexual arousal or abuse? There's a difference, okay? Now can I read this or not?"
"By all means, read Shakespeare," Angela smirked. Booth cleared his throat and began to read the poem aloud to the team.
"Her body is not so white as
anemone petals nor so smooth--
so remote a thing. It is a field
of wild carrot taking
the field by force; the grass
does not raise above it.
Here is no question of whiteness,
white as can be, with a purple mole
at the center of each flower.
Each flower is a hand's span
of her whiteness. Wherever
his hand has lain there is
a tiny purple blemish. Each part
is a blossom under his touch
to which the fibres of her being
stem one by one, each to its end,
until the whole field is a
white desire, empty, a single stem,
a cluster, flower by flower,
a pious wish to whiteness gone over--
"How in the hell does that relate to sex?" Hodgins didn't see it, and apparently neither did Angela.
"It sounds more like abuse to me," the artist said as she set down the dental x-rays onto a table next to her. "I mean there's that line, 'wherever his hand has lain there is a tiny purple blemish'. That can't relate in any way to sex, unless it's rape. That's very obviously a reference to her skin bruising as he hit her."
"Angela, that one line by itself isn't enough to base you interpretation of the poem, and why would you of all people jump to the conclusion that the poem is about abuse?" Booth stared at the artist as she crossed her arms and looked away from him.
"How can you think it's not? Each flower is a hand's span of her whiteness. Wherever his hand has lain there is a tiny purple blemish. Each part is a blossom under his touch to which the fibers of her being stem one by one. That sounds like abuse. The woman in question here is being abused, and the language of the poem describes that very vividly."
"No, it doesn't. Angela the sections that lead you to see abuse are often misinterpreted. The line about taking the field by force is his wife's feminity and fertility which he sees growing stronger just as the flowers multiplied in the field, both of them a force of nature."
"So what you're saying is that the wife is a strong individual, someone not held back by the mores of the environment they're in," Brennan commented as she listened to Booth's argument. While she was a writer, and could insert a message via a metaphor into her fiction, analyzing poetry had never been a strong point, always seeming a waste of time and energy as it was just too open to interpretation. Booth nodded at her response before he continued.
"The next statement about wherever his hand has lain there is a tiny purple blemish is not bruising. When he's referring to the flower he calls it a mole, they are the beauty marks on his wife's body that he sees when he runs his hands over her. Like in the opening when he says she is not as white or as smooth as the flower, he's saying he loves her with her imperfections, to him every freckle makes her even more attractive. When he says her body has been measured by a hand's span he's making an intimate reference to the fact she is measured by his touch. They're words of love for who she is and how he sees her," Booth stepped closer to Temperance as he spoke. Angela watched his movement, curious about what he was planning to do. "The poem was written about his wife, whom he loved more than life itself. Williams wasn't one to use really flowery language when he wrote poetry…what Hodgins?"
"Dude, that's funny because we're discussing a poem about a flower. Isn't that flowery enough?"
"Oh ha ha. I'm serious though. The imagery very clearly describes him making love to his wife." Angela still looked skeptical, but Temperance seemed to be intrigued.
"I'd like to know how you see it that way," she said to him. Booth smiled and stepped even closer to her.
"Do you trust me," he murmured so no one else could hear. At her nod, he moved in to stand directly behind her. Brennan's heart began to beat just a hair faster as he stood close enough for her to feel heat radiating from his body.
"Her body is not so white as anemone petals nor so smooth, so remote a thing. It is a field of wild carrot taking the field by force, the grass does not raise above it." His breath tickled across her neck and shoulder and she tried to suppress a shudder. "This woman he's talking about, she isn't some rich, hoity toity woman who sits inside all day, untouchable. No, she's earthy and knows how to live. She has a natural beauty and is strong, not some little delicate thing." Even with the team watching, he seemed to be nuzzling Brennan's hair, taking in the scent of the floral scented shampoo she used that morning.
"Okay, I get that, but what about the sex?" Booth just rolled his eyes before glaring at the entomologist.
"I'm getting to that, okay? Here is no question of whiteness, white as can be with a purple mole at the center of each flower." Booth ran a finger along Brennan's neck and this time she couldn't stop the shiver that ran over her body. Her own skin, pale because she wouldn't let the sun damage it, looked even whiter in comparison to Booth's darker complexion as his hand drifted farther down and began unsnapping her lab coat. "Each flower is a hand's span of her whiteness. Wherever his hand has lain there is a tiny purple blemish." Her coat fell open, and Booth swept his hand just under the edge of her shirt, her skin flushing with heat at the contact. How could he be doing this to her here in the lab, and why was she letting him?
"Go on," she choked out, trying to remain objective as he continued his recitation. She could endure this for the sake of inquiry, right? She closed her eyes as he stepped forward, his thumb rubbing small circles just under the edge of her sternum.
"Each part is a blossom under his touch to which the fibers of her being stem, one by one, each to its end, until the whole field is a white desire, empty, a single stem, a cluster, flower by flower, a pious wish to whiteness gone over, or nothing." Brennan waited, breath held for more sensation until she noticed the absolute quiet around her. She opened her eyes, which had drifted shut at some point as he talked.
"Dude, if you use that on all the ladies, no wonder you can get some tail."
"Yes, thank you for ruining the mood Hodgins," Cam said, shaking her head at him. Booth just grinned, stepped away from Temperance and leaned back on the railing surrounding the platform. Brennan took in a deep breath and tried to calm the quick tattoo of her heart rate, which had increased during the demonstration.
"The woman's arousal is equated to the blossoming of the flower, growing as each individual bloom flowers until the whole thing, each tiny flower is open, an explosion of white in the field. Full bloom of course is orgasm."
"You know, that's actually a correct metaphor for arousal," Temperance said and nodded her agreement. "Many sex therapists suggest the use of such imagery for women who have trouble reaching orgasm." She raised her eyebrows as Booth shifted uncomfortably against the railing. Brennan scoffed and shook her head. "You are unbelievable, you know that? Here you go equating flowers to sex, but when a clinical use backs up what you were saying you get uncomfortable again."
"Well, as interesting as this all was, how exactly does it relate to our victim here?" Cam looked over her team with an eyebrow raised. "I like poetry as much as the next person, but I don't think it relates in any way, shape, or form to solving this girl's death."
"Are you kidding," Hodgins said, a glimmer appearing in his eyes. "She was found in a field of wild carrots reading a poem about said wild carrot. Clearly she was trying to tell us something."
"Yeah, probably that she liked the poem and found a field of the flower and decided to spend some time by herself there." Jack looked over at Booth and shook his head.
"Dude, you're just no fun."
"I just don't need this turning into some sort of…conspiracy. If you find out anything, please let me know. I have to get back to the Bureau. Bones, dinner later?" He waved at the group as he left the platform, whistling as he went.