Originally published in Orchids magazine, this remains the only poem published by this magazine of the American Orchid Society, since it’s 1932 inception.
James Ph. Kotsybar
Renowned for what he’d long ago begun,
John tried to take a step back from his life and figure out just what it was he’d done
to be “The Orchid Man,” with orchids rife.
It must have been at his first orchid show.
He’d never bought himself one before that.
But how it grew to this he didn’t know,
as he looked about his orchid habitat.
That seemingly innocent epiphyte
was now an addiction he couldn’t fight.
His newest hybrid bloomed this month, from seed!
He brought the first blooms in at night to gawk
and kept one fragrance-close from this new breed.
He spoke to them and knew that they could talk,
revealing if they liked the light where grown
or if they got the right movement of air.
Even how wet their roots were could be known,
without touching the pot whatsoever.
Yet they were also speaking with their scent —
barely an aroma, almost a hint,
but some olfactory accomplishment —
that first seemed cilantro-like, then like mint.
Then, as if they were changing the topics,
they breathed a fruity spice of the tropics.
He’d spent the whole day tending to their needs —
grooming, fertilizing and watering,
repotting and cultivating more seeds …
guessed he’d do this till he was doddering.
The orchid bug seems a permanent catch:
No 12-step program gives it a mention.
There’s no pharmaceutical orchid patch.
Betty Ford’s doesn’t give it attention.
John wasn’t sure it should merit concern,
but he’d been “bitten” (a bit more than most),
and was not the best person to discern
the extent to which he’d become engrossed.
(So they’d have better water than he drank,
He’d just arranged for a filter system,
requiring pump and separate storage tank —
reverse osmosis so he could mist ’em.)
“Could their pheromones be affecting me?”
he pondered as he sniffed his floral fix.”
Could I be maneuvered, just like the bee,
through vivid, hypnotic geometrics?”
Just for a moment, he thought it was odd
that he’d been such an easy pushover —
not tricked by Triffid or replaced by pod,
yet his whole life had been taken over.
Since none were carnivorous, he’d assumed
that he was safe, but he was all consumed.