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

CharlotteMandel in Garden

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