Ode to a Lady’s Slipper

I am hardly ever able to pass by a lady’s slipper

without stopping to see its curvaceous blossom—

a long, pink and white balloon with a delicate entryway 

concealed between the folds, lightly scented to entice the strength 

of bumble bee visitors who enter the delusive, nectarless flower

and gather pollen in accidental fashion, moving haplessly along minute hairs

in search of an escape— a hidden back exit where stamen and anther, 

pistil and and stigma reside to be side-swiped,

pollen lifted and transported for a fruit capsule to grow,

for the fulfillment of seeds in fungal collaboration in acidic ground. 

Other times it is the fuschia veins that stream along its shapely petal 

as if blood flowed through this tender network, and the two rusty purple petals 

that spread like parted hair on each side of the pink flower’s base, 

joined above by a similar sepal to form a luring triad display—

all drawing and guiding in the Bombus pollinators.

Seeming more alive somehow than all the other ephemerals

I stumble upon in spring—some living for decades—

I stop with reverence to lift the soft moccasin

caress the veined floral flesh, acknowledge its mystery, its tenuous living, 

before it disappears from the forest floor, 

leaving behind its long, deeply grooved green leaves, 

its duty fulfilled for yet another year.

Poem by Roxanne E. Bogart

Roxanne E. Bogart is a wildlife biologist and writer, whose poems have appeared in The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Burlington Poetry Journal, The Silkworm, and Poetry Quarterly. Her first full-length book of poetry is entitled All That Sustains, published by Off the Common Books. She is a member of the International League of Conservation Writers, the Academy of American Poets, Straw Dog Writers Guild, and the Florence Poets Society, and lives in Amherst, MA with her family. Visit Roxannebogart.com to order her book.