The imagined center, our tongues
grew long to please it, licking
the walls, a chamber built of scent,
a moment followed by a lesser moment
and a hunger to return. It couldn’t last. Resin
flowed glacially from wounds in the bark
pinned us in our entering
as the orchids opened wider. First,
liquid, so we swam until we couldn’t.
Then it felt like sleep, the taste of nectar
still inside us. Sometimes a flower
became submerged with us. A million years
went by. A hundred. Swarm of hoverflies,
cockroach, assassin bug, all
in that moment of fullness,
a Pompeii, the mother
covering her child’s head forever.
Nick Flynn is one of the poets that opened my eyes to contemporary poetry. I’m usually a classics fanatic, and I’m grateful when someone who is still alive grabs me with their words.
It took me several times of reading this poem to understand what it is about, though in retrospect, its absurdly obvious.