The human eye seeks out symmetry as a measure of beauty.
It is not in short supply. Today’s–February 14th’s–ubiquitous exaggerated hearts leap from cards in perfectly uniform pinks and reds, with no variegation or variation in outline or tone.
But the world also gives us quirky, imperfect hearts: wavering shadows from intertwined leaves, branches clutching each other into a boxy Picasso love sign, wildflowers gathered in a pointillist Valentine.
It takes close inspection to discern within an orchid’s kaleidoscope of mirrored images only a single delicately curled tendril on its lower lip. Among its glorious companions, it is very slightly broken.
Slightly skewed symmetry is not, of course, confined to nature.
Whether by temperament or experience, I gravitate to the imperfect versions. Give me a nicked heart, one dashed off in a quivering hand or weathered by hurricane-force winds.
Hand me a Valentine visible only to me, as I walk alone by the shore and my eyes narrow against a burst of deep winter memory, or as the sun casts a sharp half-heart shadow against snowbanks lit a ghostly whiter shade of pale.