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Picture 10852001, photograph by John Mason, image copyright Mary Evans / Ardea

A Plant-Hunter Finds Alternative Names for the ‘Ghost Orchid’
by Dilys Wood


In my back-pack, I carry a thesaurus

of names I’ve jotted down in my long search



trance mushroom,

mind’s-eye flower


prisoner of conscience …


The last name fits because the photo –

this crude colour print, taken with a flash –

shows the orchid spindly-white against

the rufous tone of the forest floor


reminds me of flesh-and-blood, of weakness,

of living burial, of a victim lodged

in the cage of someone’s secret mind.


My other names for the Ghost Orchid are


Lazarus flower,

resurrected Female Christ,



my daughter’s illness …


The last name is because I’ll find her there

beside the pallid, slender flower –

my human exception to the rule

that plants need light, that we must be the same,


must all perform the photosynthesis

that makes leaves green; whereas she was only

a transparent girl, perfectly thin.



© Dilys Wood

Picture 10852001, photograph by John Mason, image copyright Mary Evans / Ardea



Dilys Wood founded Second Light Network of Women Poets in 1994. Her collections are Women Come to a Death (Katabasis, 1997) and Antarctica (Greendale Press, 2008).  She has co-edited Second Light’s ARTEMISpoetry and the following anthologies of women’s poetry: Fanfare (2015), Her Wings of Glass (2014), Images of Women (Arrowhead Press, in association with Second Light, 2006), My Mother Threw Knives (Second Light Publications, 2006), Making Worlds (Headland with Second Light, 2003) and Parents (Enitharmon Press, 2000).  ARTEMISpoetry is a bi-annual poetry magazine in which all poetry, reviews and articles are by women solely concerned with women’s poetry.


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