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.