American White Waterlily · Meadowedge Pond

American White Waterlily
(Nymphaea odorata)

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by Geoffrey Polk

Out of the muck of Northeast Ohio
     out of the Cuyahoga valley
out of this mud-clotted shallow pond
     bordered by towpath and scenic railroad
jogged past by runners, bicycle sprinters,
     strollers and Sunday photographers,
interrupted periodically by sound blasts
     to scare crows from corn fields,
they appeared one day on the pond’s surface,
     launched from pie-sliced pads of green,
apparitions out of the mist, creamy yellow and white,
     floating aliens whose startling glow,
mesmerizing and canyon-deep,
     stops the meadow traffic in its tracks,
binoculars fluttering, camera lenses shattered,
     walkers fainting, bikes piled together,
dogs slumped to the ground, birds cloister-silent.
     The flowers opening, spreading,
dimpling the still pond, fragrant petals,
     desired by muskrats, radially symmetric,
they emerge from module Earth like space walkers
     tethered to pond bottom
by branched root rhizomes, rising along long petioles,
     umbilicals holding these comets of wonder
for us to see, mirrors of our soul—
     we, aloft, adrift, waiting for the message
to call us home.

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