Passing

The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, 
Harvard Museum of Natural History

The ovaries, when splayed, resemble
sliced tomatoes. Or rose windows,

each geometry precise enough
to praise. I want to press my tongue

against the bloodroot petal, to run
its stamen along my slick shelf of

teeth like a man might with a wheat stalk.
Four times so far other tourists

have taken me for a gallery
attendant. In the glass, a slow-

sidling crimson spreads over my own
skewed reflection: a hesitant

teen in a Harvard hoodie, the fifth,
leans in to ask, Excuse me, sir?

Are they really glass? — a testament
to how my binder encases

my breasts, my faith in the plum yew’s fruit-
shorn frenzy. Dense clusters teeming

with their separate blossoms, any
unknowing eye might think they were

living. But I know the lilac’s tell:
two blemishes, bulbous where some

hot glass mis-dripped, then caught forever
in the filament. Sometimes, I think

I’ll wake to find they’ve finally
trickled off me in the night, pooled

molten down the bed and gathered
back again. I might thrash off both breasts

in a sleepless fit, or could unfurl
my clit like a pollen basket passed

from a honeybee’s hind legs
to the hive. It makes its secret

seen. I can only answer yes. Yes,
They’re real. I mean, they’re really glass.

You could snap a stem between fingers
with such a slight force, one stark blink — 

the flies flitting the gallery would fear
the weight of their own landing,

thick wings rapt still. When the public,
in their distressed astonishment,

demanded to know how the Blaschkas
transported the models without

a fracture in even one pistil,
Leopold Blaschka revealed his own

elaborate process: pack each
flower tightly in its cardboard

cradle, then strap them down with strong wire
to restrict movement, and set each, at last,

in a wooden box wrapped with burlap.
They drove them straight from Manhattan

in two hearses. The drivers, of course,
wore black suits. Onlookers parted

to allow their small procession past.
I like it here, with everyone

focused on the flowers. Hunched, kneeling,
as if suspicious, still doubting,

the teen eyes two tiny zinnias,
then moves on to another case.

I’ve seen many leave unsatisfied.
They can’t bear to be partitioned — 

how can I blame them? Someone made these
with their body. They let their breath

unspool to form each impossible
bud, crafted every flower’s fold,

then waited on the heat to break to
hold just one, wearing special gloves.

Wouldn’t anyone wish for just one lie
among a garden this precise?

One daisy swapped out in secret, switched
with a common courtyard flower,

now waiting for someone to notice
its wilt while its counterparts keep

all their glisten. It does seem to me
true punishment: never to change.

Unflinching forever. Sometimes, near
closing, when the hall becomes quiet,

I really do believe they’re real.