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Stephen Behrendt



Wild Orchid


He would walk with her at evening,

before he went into the river,

taking her hand softly by the fingertips,

his coarse, wood-worn hands just right,

she remembers, for her own soil-split fingers,

the fine dark clay ground into the cracks and fissures,

impervious alike to well water and Fels Naptha.


Her favorite place was the low spot at the foot of the pasture

where water pooled in the still, shaded hollow

beside the tamarack bog where wild orchids grew,

their fantastic asymmetrical array of ochre and violet

inviting to bend, look closely, inhale,

touch lightly with just a fingertip.

The fragrance hangs still in the cool, moist air

when she walks here, alone now, 

the dusk just clouding over with dew-flies.


One morning she found an orchid in the kitchen,

its stalk welled in their last tall tumbler,

its luxurious lips glowing in the early sun

where he left it for her, a silent floral kiss

upon her soft-lidded eyes, he having gone to check his traps,

his last gift before he went into the river.


Sometimes she sits here for hours beside the little pool

gazing into their orchid eyes, their living souls,

remembering, in this quiet before the great white stallion

begins his nightly racing down the pasture.


Some springs, she tears them up by the roots

to cast on the flowing, thieving river.




A. C. Grayling

Matt Hanson

Rebecca Priestley

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