Vox Populi

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Sharon Fagan McDermott: Orchid Room, Phipps Conservatory

A bird sings under glass, under canopy
of green—such light and colors
        to float your life in, 
row, row, row yourself gently
down the stream (grey day, leaves disengage:
clog the gutters below) and outside,
        flower beds decompose, half-froze
by snow. Inside the whirr of oscillation,
orchids perfume the air and bring back
        my long dead grandmother, a vision
in blue cat’s-eye spectacles near her icebox
filled with square cakes for her granddaughters
        and the story she told over again
and again:  about her beloved older brother
Gerard, who convinced her to jump
        from their garage roof, 1905
Greenwich Village, NY. And the story
lit her face like sunrise and dialed her voice
        back to girlhood—soft and shy
and awed—until she’d reach her punch lines:
“And oh, if you could see me, so high above
        I could fly; Gerard taught me to fly!!
She never mentioned if she hurt herself,
never mentioned punishment from dad
        or mom. Gerard lived only two more years;
dying at twelve. Grandma lived to be ninety-three
and wore the fabric of that tale to a soft sheen
        with her retelling. Where does the past lie?
In this glass house, the cycles keep cycling,
the orchids bloom glorious in February.
        How long do we get to be seen?
Here in the brook of flourish, silence:
an orange carp marks time with small round o’s
        in the face of all that water.

Copyright 2020 Sharon Fagan McDermott

Orchid Room, Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh

3 comments on “Sharon Fagan McDermott: Orchid Room, Phipps Conservatory

  1. Ellen Wilson
    February 8, 2020


    Liked by 2 people

  2. singsharon
    February 8, 2020

    Thanks so much, Arlene. I really appreciate that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Arlene Weiner
    February 7, 2020

    Lovely. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

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