by Jo Angela Edwins

Orchids in the Wild

surprise us with
their hardiness,
the fact that they appear
as we round a woodsy bend,
like any ordinary plant,
which of course they are,
or which of course is a lie,
as nothing alive is ordinary,
as the word ordinary
is itself a lie. Live
long enough, or never live
past childhood, and you
understand. There they bloom,

those oval leaves at home
in forest loam, alongside
pine cone and fermented
berry, rabbit scat
and maidenhead fern.
Oh, there uprises
the regal purple
of lady slipper,
the shocking white
of bog candle,
the bloody brow
of ram’s head. Yes,
as with all beauty,
there comes the ruthless.

How else explain
the rise of what
amazes? Every
parturition is violent.
The stem, its green
docile as lamb’s wool, bursts
through the thin seed wall,
the earth that nurtured it
letting itself be pierced
by anything high
or humble — lightning
bolt, robin’s beak, hiker’s
walking stick or boot heel,
tumbled branch, even the smallest
drops of summer rain.

Everything survives
by pushing its way
into this roiling world.
The world, as it was built
to do, shifts its bedrock
to make room.


Photo by Emma Gossett on Unsplash