Direct link to photoset. If watching the slideshow, be sure to expand to full screen.
Here’s to the skunk cabbage,
first plant to raise a toast to spring,
even if it sometimes has to melt a hole
right through the ice,
a plant that grows
its own hothouse
& keeps it at 22 degrees Celsius
for weeks on end.
Half monk, half cobra,
it shares its solitude
with the earliest flies & beetles,
whose springtime fancy
turns to putrefaction: gut piles,
winter-killed deer, & in the swamp
a leathery curl of old meat.
It gives off a heat & fragrance
the real thing can rarely match—
pornography for insects.
Only after pollination is consummated
does the skunk cabbage unfurl
its eponymous leaves—
huge sails with yellow stitching
& a green that stays fresh
long into the summer,
while dark berries
swell on the spadix
& the roots tighten their grip
on the pungent mud,
the whole plant inching
into the earth.