“Indian Pipe,” by G.C. Waldrep

Browse By

* poetry by G. C. Waldrep, excerpted from MQR 53:2, Spring 2014 *

 

I came to love late,

as in a forest clearing

one walks at dusk

& spies, in the

needlemass, that

pale clump, un-

suspected, not there

just a few hours

before: indian pipe,

corpse-plant

that draws its life

from the roots

of others by way

of a third organism

largely unseen.

It is not at all clear

what the indian

pipe offers

either of its hosts:

the fungus

from which its roots

draw, or the pine

on which the fungus

feeds. Its flowers

flecked with

pink unfurl

to the vertical

& then, in a night,

the whole blackens

like a discarded

matchstick,

We were never

here. I search

the needle-lift for

their ghost-

presence. It is not

like night, a poet

wrote, of blindness.

They do not

transplant easily

& are even harder

to raise from

seed (from the dead

I almost wrote);

no one

is completely sure

how they pollinate.

It’s best, one website

suggests, that

if you want them,

you recreate

the conditions under

which they’re

most likely to thrive.

Indian pipe,

I would touch you

but you bruise easily

& darken

like a cut apple.

This is your season,

late summer in

the northern woods.

Let me glimpse

your incandescence

roadside, as if

some god

had dropped you

in rushed

or careless passage.

You are an old

friend. I will wait

patiently,

as long as it takes

for winter to sweep

this forest

clean of green, &

then I’ll dig beneath

you for my heart.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This excerpt is featured content from the

Spring 2014 issue

For ordering information or to find out more about the contents of this issue, click here.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

One thought on ““Indian Pipe,” by G.C. Waldrep”

  1. Greg Roll says:

    What a unique poem, Indian Pipe. I learned as I read, drawn in by the gentle exploration of a plant I hadn’t come across in all my years spent in the north woods, and found the same symbiotic relationship that words have with heart as plants have with forest. Loved this.

%d bloggers like this: