Facing Down the Apocalypse IV: LadySlippers

08

APRIL 2020

At the edge of certainty at the edge of vision at the edge of a squishy two-track tunneling into shade, they appear when I most need them. With thumb and forefinger I tip one tiny face toward mine. Five petals flare like petite fingers above a pouch looking for all the world at the end of the world like a pink mottled heart about to throb. 

What’s in a name here at the edge of everything we think we know?Calypso orchid, aka Calypso bulbosa, aka thumb-size goblet of orchid sex nodding yes. As a child I knew them as Lady Slippers, fistfuls of flowers in my aunt’s hands, aromatic bouquets wrapped gently in wet paper towels, handed out to family and friends in her version of love. Mom came to know them as threatened, taught us to hold them only with our eyes, that ownership is shared with sword fern and April moss and bees duped by the promise of nectar that isn’t there. They aren’t as sweet as they seem.

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