Like the Biologists,

I thought
the ghost orchid’s labellum

split into lateral
tendrils so the giant

sphinx moth would land
between them, its twelve-

inch tongue designed to suck
from a twelve-inch

tube. But stalking the magic
of long, open legs

with help from light
and camera traps revealed

encounters I didn’t know
existed. I can watch

the fig, streaked, pawpaw
or giant sphinx hover, probe,

and pollinate the ghost.


Beth McDermott is the author Figure 1 (Pine Row Press, 2022), and How to Leave a Farmhouse, a chapbook published by Porkbelly Press. Her poetry appears in Pine RowTupelo QuarterlyMatter, and Jet Fuel Review. Reviews appear in American Book ReviewAfter the ArtKenyon Review Online, and The Bind. She’s an Assistant Professor of English at the University of St. Francis and recipient of a 2020-2021 Distinguished Teaching Award.


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