On the kitchen windowsill, bleeding hearts spring from a vase: the big garden ones like pink, puffed-up pigtails around their clitoral white centers; the smaller wild ones in deeper rose, all pendent from arcing pedicels.
Different leaves to either side: fingered fine or coarser, in measure to their blooms. Dicentra: two parts around that intricate middle. Pollinated within, they never quite open: just spread, balloon, reflex, collapse, and drop, like old hearts everywhere.
Above and behind, two broad green vanes embrace a flight of “white coral bells, upon a slender stalk”— lilies of the valley, designed to break with their unbearable scent every tame and wild heart, even before they fall.
in Latin, “tailed frog” to you and me. Only one of its clan in the whole New World: nearest kin, New Zealand. Frequents such rivers as give Cascades their name, fast and clean. Adults have no ears or voice: why chorus in noisy water? The male has a penis in place of mere cloaca: false, so called, but works, so sperms aren’t flushed away. Tailed tadpoles have suckers to cling in rushing streams. Saw one today in Lookout Creek! Been looking hard, these forty-five years.
Denizen along a Lower Columbia River tributary, biologist Robert Michael Pyle writes essay, poetry, and fiction in deep-rural southwestern Washington. His 18 books include Wintergreen, The Thunder Tree, Mariposa Road, The Tangled Bank, and several butterfly standards. A collection of poems, Evolution of the Genus Iris, will be published by Lost Horse Press in spring 2014.