By: Christopher Johnson
We’re walking through the Cook County Forest Preserves,
The Palos Preserves,
Which sprawl southwest of Chicago,
Like a beastly wilderness of hidden flora and fauna.
The path humps up and down like the tail of a dragon—
A trail benighted and spooked, like one in New England.
Our boots clop against the mystical floor of the woods
As we slowly make our perpetual way round Tomahawk Slough.
Then, through an opening in the woods, bordering the slough,
Bursts a field of American lotuses,
Exploding in yellow,
Pregnant with yellow,
Lotuses burning with color as vivid as
The imaginings of the ancient mariner.
The yellow bursts, the flowers bleed,
Delicate but hardy,
Protected by enormous, waving, wading
Leaves the green of Whitman’s grass.
Each lotus petal slopes into the shape of an eye.
Lotuses as far as the eye can see,
Sprawling to infinity,
Incandescent beneath the ten suns,
Stirring slowly back and forth like electric neon lights,
With petals as yellow as urine.
The flowers smile at us,
Seducing us as nature does.
At their center the pistil,
Hard and strong,
Ready to start the new flower of new life.
Yellow circles with tiny dots embedded in them
Hold the seeds of life.
Clover as purple as a queen’s mantle
Surrounds the lotuses and pays them obeisance.
Scurrying along the ground are exaltations of green–
Emerald cities of grass.
I feel myself faintly nauseated and then melting,
Melting into this molten green and yellow,
This mystical landscape.
As we wander hip-deep in this verdant on-fire riot of lotuses,
I feel a strange magic,
Am falling out of my body,
Am floating above and then within the lotuses,
And nestling, with the inevitability of a cloud of childhood,
Into the open and waiting arms
Of the hungry, greedy, gentle lotus.