Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone by Jennifer Schlick
Wood Anemone by Jennifer Schlick (click image to see larger)

Anemone quinquefolia

Sheltered when small by
the three deeply cut leaves,
this so-called windflower
sways on its thin stalk even
from the wake of a passing fly.
Its pale sepals serve
as an almost mirror
for the April sun,
warming the sexual organs,
perhaps even helping to attract—
in lieu of nectar or fragrance—
the solitary bees that bring it
carnal knowledge of its mates.
Veined like flesh drained of color,
sometimes flushed pink underneath,
its close relatives reminded
the Egyptians of sickness
& European peasants of an ill omen,
especially the way it folds up
each night like a tent.
What is it trying to hide?
What secret pleasures prompt
such incessant trembling?
It’s bitter, they say,
burns the mouth & throat,
causes nausea, vomiting & diarrhea.
But the deer in early spring
are ravenous. It wants to live.
By midsummer, flower & fruiting done,
its ruined leaves melt away
into the damp ground.

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2 Comments


  1. Wood anemone, the most unassuming and yet the prettiest of its family.
    Beautifully captured in words Dave. I love the way you offer knowledge wrapped in the most beguiling poetry.

    Reply

    1. Thanks — awfully glad this approach is working for you! Yes, apparently our two species are very close, though from a couple papers I looked at, evidently the exact cladistics of anemone tribes are still being worked out. (Turns out I know one of the few experts on this, a Penn State botanist.)

      Reply

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