Originally published on Terrain.org

Still Life

On the kitchen windowsill,
bleeding hearts spring
from a vase: the big garden ones
like pink, puffed-up pigtails around
their clitoral white centers; the smaller
wild ones in deeper rose, all pendent
from arcing pedicels.

Different leaves to either side:
fingered fine or coarser, in measure
to their blooms. Dicentra: two parts
around that intricate middle. Pollinated
within, they never quite open: just spread,
balloon, reflex, collapse, and drop,
like old hearts everywhere.

Above and behind, two broad green vanes embrace
a flight of “white coral bells, upon a slender stalk”—
lilies of the valley, designed to break
with their unbearable scent
every tame and wild heart, even before
they fall.


 

Ascaphus truei

in Latin, “tailed frog” to you and me. Only
one of its clan in the whole New World:
nearest kin, New Zealand. Frequents
such rivers as give Cascades their
name, fast and clean. Adults have
no ears or voice: why chorus in
noisy water? The male has a
penis in place of mere cloaca:
false, so called, but works,
so sperms aren’t flushed
away. Tailed tadpoles
have suckers to cling
in rushing streams.
Saw one today in
Lookout Creek!
Been looking
hard, these
forty-five
years.

Robert Michael Pyle PDFs:

Writings from the HJ Andrews

Orion: The Long Haul

 

Robert Michael Pyle is a lepidopterist, and a professional writer who has published twelve books and hundreds of papers, essays, stories and poems. He has a Ph.D. from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. His acclaimed 1987 book Wintergreen describing the devastation caused by unrestrained logging in Washington’s Willapa Hills near his adopted home was the winner of the 1987 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing. His books include Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide,Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land, and Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place. He won the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award.