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Picture 11675849 © / Mary Evans / Renato Granieri

by John Bowen

On Mt. Kinabalu,
In that breathless band,
between the thin high air
and rain forest heat.
Cocooned in constant cloud,
nestled among damp moss
and the rot of ancient trees,
where waves of columbine swirl
in the breeze of a perpetual dusk,
is where you find her.

She gleams, a solitary beacon
and way point of hope. A snowy,
five petalled star, resplendent
and resilient, burgundy rimmed,
as though sipping on a ruby wine,
that barely brushes the lips
as she takes the sacrament.
Dew dappled haze clings to her pale,
down-turned face in modesty,
as though bowed in prayer.

She is the sun
in this sunless world.
Her secrecy wrapped
in labia of smoky organdie
as her stamens stammer
and vibrate to passing fronds,
of evanescent mist, woven
like macramé lace to enfold her
from all but my view.

Beautiful as the pearl,
nurtured by the sacrifice
only a mother would make.
Wistful and lyrical as the poetry
that comes in the astral moments
before sleep. Fragile and precious
as the heartbeat of a dying child,
slipping slowly from the grasp
of a helpless parent in those
last moments of agonised vigil.

My orchid, my love.

© John Bowen
Picture 11675849 © / Mary Evans / Renato Granieri


John Bowen is a widower in his early 70s, living in South London where he was born and grew up. He had a brief spell in professional football before going to university to study English. Most of his working life was spent as an Emergency Duty Social Worker until he retired in 2014. He has been writing poetry for well over 40 years on and off, but it has only been since the death of his partner, and the need to find an outlet for his grief, that he has taken the subject seriously.

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