a child's stubby pointer crest of sand beneath the nails reaching stroking soft as mango flesh but putri malu is coy her feathered leaf recoils tight as a fist and the tiny flower maid curtsies apologetically on the beach the softest wave curls greenly under hunching and afraid the warm ocean breeze whispers "too shy. too shy."
I grew up on a small island in the Indonesian archipelago. The beach near our house was quiet with waves like small grey-green speed humps, shuffling into shore. As you walked along the sandy path to the beach, a small feathery plant nodded on your right. If you touched it, the leaves curled away. It was known as putri malu which is Indonesian for “shy princess”. The photo above is not putri malu (taken on a walk with the dog here in Australia) but the flower is similar. I learned from Google that the real name for putri malu is mimosa pudica.