That got me curious about another famously smelly wildflower, one I’m particularly fond of – skunk cabbage, a winter miracle flowing with antifreeze that burns and blooms through the snow. Sure enough, the Latin name is Symplocarpus foetidus, and Brandenburg says: “Plants are ill-scented, with somewhat skunklike odor.” In his journal entry for Oct. 16, 1856, Thoreau noted his discovery of “a rare and remarkable fungus”:
It may be divided into three parts, pileus, stem, and base,–or scrotum, for it is a perfect phallus…There was at first a very thin delicate white collar (or volva?) about the base of the stem above the scrotum. It was as offensive to the eye as to the scent, the cap rapidly melting and defiling what it touched with a fetid, olivaceous, semiliquid matter.
today i have learned the difference between watid and sabab.
peg and cord. the symmetry of each stanza sculpted from shells & scales. today i taught myself
to cut some corners because sometimes the centre that holds wants to be the edge that unfolds.
today, i didn’t sleep with hunger. either of bone or belly. today i didn’t ache for the knife of your voice.
i washed the fetor of fish off my gaunt fingertips. garlic & turmeric trails rinsed from anaemic nails
i sat, legs folded into a duet of lotus blossoms, a crow changing the shape of light in the window. a blue feather fell into my lap like a key to
the same room as my grandmother’s sandalwood armoire teeming with mussel silk and an envelope of polaroids.
i disturbed the fray of each film. the longitudes running through the flattened monochrome. gaze growing, growling, stripping, stopping
here, i have watched the months go like husbands who walk out for cigarettes or groceries or newspapers never returning to the roost of bulldozed cities. each turning into a coin that loses its will as it finds its way.
here, wives get busy baking bread, raising sons, sharpening their teeth on necklaces of tobacco shish
mouths caught in a late marriage of speech and spit, they light lamps under banyans and i see how hope is a thing that is best left to flicker in between defeat and devotion.
today, i learned that each poem was another path into the past
today, i learned what i needed to survive, was faith, not God.
afterwards an utterly unbearable fetor welled forth from the unseen
heights, choking and sickening the trembling watchers, and almost
prostrating those in the square. At the same time the air trembled with a
vibration as of flapping wings, and a sudden east-blowing wind more
violent than any previous blast snatched off the hats and wrenched the
dripping umbrellas from the crowd. Nothing definite could be seen in the
candleless night, though some upward-looking spectators thought they
glimpsed a great spreading blur of denser blackness against the inky
sky—something like a formless cloud of smoke that shot with meteorlike
speed towards the east…
…‘I see it—coming here—hell-wind— titan blur—black wing—Yog Sothoth
save me—the three-lobed burning eye…’”
HP Lovecraft, The Haunter of the Dark
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