“Even a poem is too loud.”
—A. R. (“Archie”) Ammons
Fox walks as slowly as she can
where pine needles soften a raw earth trail,
toe-to-heel, toe-to-heel, the way
her father taught her when she
knew he was king of the world.
She doesn’t want to write a sonnet.
She doesn’t want new words at all,
but just to touch rough moss and roots
and find the orange mushrooms growing
where a black branch fell and stayed.
There! A single lady slipper
palest purple and rounded fragile
blossom on a slender stalk:
quiet, Fox thinks, alone and simple
in a world forced by machines.
No one is allowed to touch it.
So few know it’s rare and frail.
A blossom far from noise and uproar.
A talisman. A grail.
-Kathryn Howd Machan
Katharyn Howd Machan’s most recent publication is What the Piper Promised, winner of the 2018 Alexandria Quarterly Press chapbook competition. She lives in Ithaca, New York, with fellow poet Eric Machan Howd and teaches in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College.