Rachel Ruysch in 1708 painted as a woman should paint.
Barred from nudes and figurative allegory, limited by her gender,
she withdrew to flowers, like pretty little women should.
But in her heart, she was more than decorative, true artist
That she was, challenging, perverse, insistent on producing harsh truth.
Discontented with facile surfaces, she walked through safety to death.
Even as she apparently conformed and pandered to popular opinions.
Even as a court painter. She twisted her wry smile.
Bugs and reptiles, rot and botanical sex hid amid real blooms.