Skunk Cabbage: The First Flowers of Spring

Before the thawing of the snow,
before the rills and freshets flow,
I’ll generate an urgent heat,
draw a breath of swamp mist, greet
late winter’s quietude, and grow.

My spathe will reek like a long-dead doe,
attracting bees and flesh-flies. Oh,
I’ll warm their wings and frozen feet
before the thaw!

While they, with buoyant blitheness, strow
my pollen, roots will spread below
the mud, brown leaves, and rimy sheet,
and cling like fingers in concrete.
No petals? Still, I’ll steal the show
before the thaw!


(Originally appeared in Victorian Violet Press, later in The Society of Classical Poets.)