Petals like a dead moth’s wings
skin-soft but tough
form a miniature basket
coiled like the birthday favors
we’d blow through
buzzing loud over ruffled paper cups
filled with raisinets kisses nuts.
Your gift plant’s blossoming arms
rose from a base
of leathery leaves
larger than my hand.
“Keep the ground moist” you advised.
The last blossom shrivels.
With a fingernail I incise
dots on the papery petal-wing—
a remorse code.
There is an orchid that mimics
color and form of a female bee
just at the time the male bees cruise
who copulate with the flower
bamboozled thus into pollination—
a lesson in how to get what one wants
by pretending to give
what the other wants.
The dead stem like a dried insect antenna
lies caught in motion’s end.
At touch it rasps
and I listen.
Charlotte Mandel’s ninth book of poetry, Through a Garden Gate with color photographs by Vincent Covello, is newly published by David Robert Books. Previous titles include Life Work, and two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision—The Life of Mary and The Marriages of Jacob. Her awards include winner of the 2012 New Jersey Poets Prize. Her critical essays include a series of articles on the role of cinema in the life and work of poet H.D. Visit her at http://www.charlottemandel.com.