national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

Symplocarpus

Carolyn Decker  • 
Wheaton College

New love came early this year

a skunk cabbage in the snow

 

its rigid pink flower rupturing the icy ground

 

an upturned spire of a shimmering whelk

unburied by an outgoing tide.

 

I was still in winter when you blossomed

 

more coiled than the hardwood buds

bound tight in their burgundy shawls,

 

while you stood radiant

unassuming in our small rolling wetland

 

proud to usher in the warmer days

of running sap and bird songs.

 

Could I find a friend in you—

 

your mottled skin smelling of earth and flesh

flecked with damp soil and new sunlight.

 

Could I lie with you—

 

unwrap myself beside you

here at the onset of a thaw.