how an orchid is made to look like sex, or specifically, like the tachinid fly who has landed on a leaf to flash her private parts in the sun, opening and closing so the light catches. No wonder her hapless mate must ravish the flower whose petals are extended wings, barred yellow and red-brown, stigma reflecting the sunlight. Some orchids dance. Some reward a bee with priceless perfume that lures sweet attention. So what if I sweep up my hair to show my neck, so what if someone begins to kiss it? Consider the bowerbird, jewelling his nest with sapphire. Ask the two snakes braiding their muscled lengths. See how God is in love with sex, and how we are made in her image! Like a lovesick ungulate, haven’t you forgotten to eat for weeks? Have you heard the barred owls scream all night? Seen fireflies flashing their silent sirens? The woodcock spirals higher and higher, then plummets in sharp zigzags, wind whistling through his wings like a song (Song of Songs: honey and milk under your tongue). Nothing, after all, is solid—atoms flying in all directions, ocean currents plunging into themselves. Why not two bodies by firelight, stunned by their bare skin, their own flickering sudden perfection? No hellfire here. When galaxies collide, there is no wreck, no blazing crash of suns and moons. Just a rushing together, a folding in— and a heat beyond orchids— birthing, baptizing heat.
Descending Killington Peak
We step down from darkly clustered spruce into birch—pink and white, bark peeled into sunsets, hanging like sloughed skin. And though it is raining, it is as if the sun came out—golden leaves carpeting the forest floor, drifting from over our heads—like a shattered sun had fallen in shards through the gray sky to glow close around us.
In this kind of quiet, within this deep shine that comes from somewhere just beneath the surface on which we live out our lives, always in those spaces I am searching for traces—from tree to tree, in the rose-gold light—some glimpse of insight, some sign that says this is the turning or this is how you’ll know—
omen or rune, intimation that this is the sweet beginning, this is how it will end. But there is only the sound of our walking muffled by what has fallen, layers of glimmer and decay. You take it for what it is, saying, in winter here it seems you can see forever: the snow and birches blending, the trunks’ black eyebrows floating in the blank white.
Hannah Fries‘ poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, upstreet, and Calyx.