SPIRANTHES VERNALIS

TEXT: NICK MARTINO ('15) STAFF WRITER

DRAWING: SOPHIE BECKER ('16) CONTRIBUTOR

 Staff Writer Nick Martino's senior thesis follows a traumatized writer's field guide to Connecticut orchids. Below is an excerpt. 

Grass-leaved ladies’-tresses (Englemann & Gray 1845)

Habitat: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Hampshire south to Texas and Florida; Mexico

plant height: 17cm   petal length: 11.5mm   labellum length: 3mm

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I find the nectar spur is absent, having neatly photosynthesized into a ghost… where I catch you consuming light in the cemetery…haunting the fire-rusted nadir of a roadside ditch…

from a makeshift campsite…seven years to bud and bloom…spiranthes: from the Greek speira (coil) and anthos (flower)…one coil flower, mortal…a delicate pale…fruiting in a spiral-ladder formation…

a helixing inflorescence like a black and white barber’s pole- upwards of fifty spiritualized, wan on the raceme...the illuminations of saints, stone faces in bas relief… a brief clutch at suspended animation…

shuttled between subterranean seasons…snowy microfilamental, a downy tongue… pollinated with a yellow popsicle…the labellum is simple…habitat: terrestrial… missionaries of the sun…places of abandon, wooden reeds and prairie grasses, jungle gyms…

spun around a greeny stem twisting like…from the Greek φῶς phōs, "light", and σύνθεσιςsynthesis, "putting together"…in most cases, oxygen is released…flowers parade on the spike…green wooden pallbearers… the same species bowing roadside I-91S …

in this orchid each flower reinvents a memory of the last…how do flowers remember… painted in the fashion of the last… there is a distortion in all genealogies…seven years…they have their reasons…

each flower is a triptych on canvas… dorsal sepals and adjacent flared lateral petals form a hood over a simple bifurcated lip… entire structure is so white as to obscure color… death fruits… eyes bend light…

jacob’s spiral ladder… an allusionary spiral whorls… past is synchronous…rising to a terminus… the silhouette of absence is open-ended…