After the rain

The sky clears toward sunset, and the wood thrushes, which have been singing all day long in the dim light, fall silent. The raincrow peers at the sun-flooded world with red-rimmed eyes,

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the trees steam,

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and raindrops glisten on the matted locks of a dandelion gone to seed,

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while up in the woods, pink lady’s slipper orchids stand like strippers in a spotlight,

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more forlorn than seductive,

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and the wings of a tiger swallowtail lie scattered among the forest litter, as if left behind in some final metamorphosis beyond the reach of sunlight or imagination.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

18 Comments


  1. Never mind the pink lady slipper stripper, she’s good, oh I’m not saying she isn’t, but that piece in your sidebar, your otherbloggerlover, is priceless! “You have another blog, don’t you,” she whispered… more, more, encore!

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  2. I’m with Brenda. :-). But the photographs are exquisite, Dave. The colours are so good, clear yet subtle.

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  3. Thanks, Brenda and mary. I don’t know if I’ll write a follow-up or not, but i do like doing things like that so feed subscribers will be forced to click on the site from time to time! (Well, hopefully the Smorgasblog will make regular visitors of some.)

    mary, I’m glad to hear the colors are coming through well at your end. Many people don’t have their monitors tuned properly, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

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  4. Such lovely photographs from after the rains, Dave. The tree steam reminds me of a buffalo on a winter morning, its breath hanging in the air. And those broken swallowtail wings are like fall leaves in spring. Quite beautiful.

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  5. Saw these just before the rain broke here. Thought they were positively pornographic, given the lack of sun here. But now it’s cleared here as well. Still wet, everything shines so bright in the light. Nice pics. And yes, the swallowtail wings are touching.

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  6. Thanks for the kind words, y’all. I’m glad you liked that final clause, Peter – it didn’t come easy. And I kept trying to think of ways to avoid using the phrase “left behind,” which have a connotation I really wasn’t after!

    The tree steam reminds me of a buffalo on a winter morning
    Good call. That’s actually what I was thinking of when I took the picture.

    positively pornographic
    So steamy.
    Hey, if I decide to stick some blurbs in my sidebar at some point, I know where to start! Thanks.

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  7. The sadness of strippers, like the melancholy of clowns, is something we have come to expect now.

    Walking recently through the red-light district in Amsterdam, where the half-clothed women slinked around in glass cages promoting their wares with the uncertain movements of abandoned cats, I felt the exact opposite of arousal: detumescence, depression, a kind of sorrowful confusion.

    Your orchids, though, speak life.

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  8. Thanks for the graceful comment. I really connected with your phrase “the uncertain movements of abandoned cats,” because we live in the kind of place where people dump unwanted pets. Sometime in the last two weeks, some asshole dumped three or four almost-grown cats. You run into them on the trails, and they clearly don’t know whether to run toward you or away.

    My one experience with strippers in action was in Taiwan, twenty years ago. Odd: it was treated as family entertainment, with clowns and acrobats in between the strip numbers. Chinese acrobats are cool. But those poor strippers – well, let’s just say it didn’t help that they were conspicuosly lacking in the booty department.

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  9. But those poor strippers – well, let’s just say it didn’t help that they were conspicuosly lacking in the booty department.

    It’s like the double insult of cafeteria food: lacking in flavor, and there’s never enough of it.

    But now I’m confused. Was that said of cafeteria food, or of life?

    Speaking of family entertainment, a friend tells me that whoring is considered normal by many Thai businessmen. This buddy of mine (he’s a travelling rep for GE) was taken out for a night of entertainment, and next thing he knew he was being offered skin. Bangkok wives presumably accept it as part of the business culture, and as long as the husband doesn’t fall in love with a particular girl.

    Apologies for dragging the conversation away from natural history. And apologies to all the strippers reading: I don’t mean to equate you with hos. And apologies to all the hos: the comparison of your profession with orchids is not intended to cause offence.

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  10. Thanks, MB.

    St Antonymn – I think I read somewhere that two-thirds of all Thai women practice prostitution at some time in their lives. (Can that really be correct?)

    Good point about cafeterias (which I prefer to table service, by the way – being served always makes me feel awkward and apologetic).

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  11. the strippers on the forest floor…they’re male! Look at those “well-hung” parts.

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  12. A gay friend of mine went to Thailand on business. He said he hailed a cab outside his hotel and the first thing the driver asked was, “You want boy or girl?” (He wanted a freakin’ restaurant.) Scary. I can’t imagine hardly any of these people are in prostitution out of choice.

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  13. sylph – Really? O.K.

    leslee – Yeah, I ran into a little of that when I was on the coast of Honduras back in ’95. Depressing to think that almost every other tourist probably is there for sex. And much of it with barely post-pubescent children, at that. Yeesh.

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  14. I think I read somewhere that two-thirds of all Thai women practice prostitution at some time in their lives. (Can that really be correct?)

    I doubt it. I spent only three weeks in Thailand, and only one of those in Bangkok, but there seemed to be an awful lot of decent people with normal lives and normal jobs.

    This might be part of a pattern of the West narrating “the Other” into transgression. I feel just as skeptical about reports that give incredible infection rates of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. The 40% figure is widely bandied about. It’s nonsense- if it was 40% in 2003, it must surely be 60% by now- but that doesn’t stop people repeating it. It’s a calumny, actually, one that only serves the idea that Africans are disease-laden and a threat to the world.

    And somewhere, recently, I saw an economic study linking GDP to IQ, full of data and equations and mathematics, and that study quoted another one that gave the average IQ in Nigeria as 67. The study can be easily googled.

    White people are nothing if not devious. Come to think of it, I could do a whole blog on nothing but how the media slanders Africa and Africans, and the chief culprits would be the New York Times and PBS.

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