Friday, August 14, 2015


A soundtrack of sultry engines
and gnashing blades. Loggers
are warping my neighbor’s woodlot
to bloody his eager bank account
with tire ruts through the wetlands
and slaughter of nesting songbirds.

But my perennial plots retort
with clustered stalks of orchis,
a gift from an unknown source
windblown about the cosmos.
Alien, epipactis helleborine
welcomes me into the garden
with a sudden flurry of blossoms.

Tough ribbed leaves clutching the stem.
Green-tint flowers shaded purple,
hearty lip thrust forward, a sac
with pointed tip underslung.
I hadn’t noticed the stalks growing,
although they must have required
days or weeks of nourishment
to rise from the bottom of things
and crown themselves in mottled shade.

As I kneel before their glory
a double-rigged truckload of rubble
hacked from the living white pine
lumbers along the road and sneers
its lonesome diesel sneer,
mocking with carbon emissions
the defeat of entire forests.

But I’ve come to these flowers
as one returned from a distant star
to linger for a final close-up.
The helleborine looks aloof
yet available, tough but frail
like a character in film noir.
Its aroma defies my sense of smell
with subtleties I can’t parse
from the larger photosynthesis.     

So never pick an orchid. Tiny
but finely sculpted blossoms
climb their stalks and peer at me
with that floral curiosity
that feels so much like a feeling
crawling right over me, groping
for some grave yet passionate reply.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stokes Aster

At Morningstar in August
potted perennials have strewn
roots beyond their containers
and clutch at burlap, other plants,
or the weedy ground below.
I browse among trees grown so tall
still in their large plastic pots
you’d need a crane to move them.

Honeybees simper in flowers,
wallowing in sweets. Their lives,
compromised by pesticides, fungus,
and long dull winters, seem useful
but too monastic to excite me
into fits of figurative language.
They’re working only a few yards
from their hives, white cubes propped
on legs above the reach of dogs—
three goldens and an aging mutt—
that follow me step by step
through the aisles of straining flowers.

Stokes aster stops me. Its flowers
attain a shimmering deep blue
that locks my gaze and stuns me.
I could grow old watching these blossoms
bask in their private glory,
but the dogs nudge me along
to the orchard where brown pears ripen
like swollen leather knuckles
in a dazzle of ranting bees.