Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Corpse Flower


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The Corpse Flower
Amorphophallus titanium

Like the carrion beetles needed to fertilize it,
we’ve traveled for miles not merely to see
but to smell this colossally fetid flower.
No wonder the Sumatrans named it Devil’s Tongue.
The marooned-tinged spathe has unwrapped,
dropped its skirt around the five-foot long spadix
with its erection of small blooms. Opened, the tomb
tempts us. Like children wanting a scare at Halloween,
or lovers at a horror flick, we hold our breath.
The bravest unplug their nose and take a whiff.
Rotten fish composted with toe cheese and bean farts.
Nature’s smelliest plant oils and various sulfur-y
pitches. Peonies, honeysuckle and jasmine
grace the air with pleasant scents. And for this
we love them. The corpse flower knows
we come from what has decomposed —
and like gawkers drawn to a car crash
can’t keep ourselves away.


published in Literary Salt, April 2005

1 comment:

Pamela said...

I really like this poem. Also, the base of that flower looks like an art deco-floor lamp from a funeral home. Fitting, huh?