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Something About An Orchid

by Carmen X

In a station of the metro—I was reminded of the Pound poem. Hurrying along, surrounded by people. Petals and wet, black boughs. How did he manage to capture an image faster than I could think it up my- self? Put it in my own words? It was then and there I saw her. Finishing that thought, around the corner. A woman in a red coat. Too warm for the weather. She bore ahead and walked without concern for anyone. You walk past people all the time, especially at a place like the station. Most of the time it doesn't even register. Sometimes, though not too often, a face or a passing glance smears by, leaving an impres- sion, like a painting from Renoir. And then there is that rare moment when it is not that someone catches your attention, but that your attention is taken, no, stolen from you. You have no say; not then and not there. Finishing that thought, rounding that corner. Why did she stand out to me? I knew why. She looked exactly like an old acquaintance from my university days. Well, acquaintance put it too coldly. We were more than friends, but not more than that. She looked exactly like her. In fact, it was her. I knew it. Or maybe it wasn’t, as the coat passed and the red smeared, impressionistic. Could have been anyone else; in fact, it probably was; and it was just something about this woman, that coat, that triggered the sudden connection. Like seeing the word con- tradiction and immediately thinking of Hegel. Hi. Hey. How are you? Holding up, you? Yeah, I’m holding up. What would I have to say? There was nothing to say. We were friends—more than friends, but not more than that—some time before, but not now. And there was no real reason why. Tectonic plates drifting over time. Something like that. To say something would involve surmounting an already wide, yawning gap. The words, even if they were the right words, didn’t have the wings for the whole trip, they wouldn’t stick the landing. My metaphorical courier pigeon wouldn’t make it from Brazil to Algeria. If I turned and tapped her arm, above the elbow: maybe we’d catch up at a coffeehouse, I’d ask how her teaching career was going, she’d comment I wear skirts now; maybe we’d walk through the park nearby; maybe we’d make plans for a movie the next day; something perhaps blooming again maybe. If I turned. Even if it wasn’t her after all. If I turned. In a certain region in Japan, Wakayama prefecture to be exact, there exists the Lecanorchis nigri- cans—a flower that never blooms. It simply takes too much energy to open up. As the red smeared and disappeared into the black of the crowd, I considered how I might not even be a petal, that I’d just remain a bud, and descend darkly to the forest floor. I left the metro; a November chill in August.


About the author:

Carmen X is a writer. Her piece, Something About An Orchid is inspired by a poem by Pound, and can be found in Erato's first issue, Bloom.


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