It was tempting to use another common name of Trillium erectum, stinking Benjamin, in the last line, but that made things entirely too unambiguous, I thought. (Maybe it’s the photographer, lying on the ground, you know?) The flowers mimic the color and smell of rotting flesh to attract flies so they can have sex. (Yep, nothing like telling children about the birds and the bees to fuck them up for life!)
Savasana or corpse pose is the final asana in many yoga sessions because it is in some ways the most difficult, to fully relax with attention. Or so the internet informs me. No mention of flies, or an urgent need to get pollinated and set seed before dying back again.
A haiku prompted not merely by the image but by the specific processing I decided to give it. So then of course I needed to use an old-fashioned font, too. Somewhere in the editing, “fashion” became “fashions” and I decided to stick with that.
This one’s a little high-concept, I guess. I like the way that hepaticas face in all directions, and imagined them trying to ask Marie Kondo’s iconic question about their environment: What sparks joy? A web search turned up a post at Dictionary.com about the Japanese verb she uses, tokimeku —
In Marie Kondo’s books, sparkjoy is a loose translation of the Japanese word ときめく(tokimeku), literally “to flutter,” “to throb,” “to palpitate,” or “to beat fast,” as your heart would when it feels excited.
Now, I’ve forgotten more Japanese than I ever knew, but I still do know how to use a dictionary and such, so with some tinkering around I came up with a translation that even manages to adhere to the traditional 5-7-5 haku pattern. (If anyone more conversant with the language wants to correct me, please feel free!) Hepatica nobilis is a five-haku word, misumisō:
rakuyō ni nani ga tokimeku misumisō
As for the English original, I ultimately ended up changing “sparks joy” to “flutters” so the whole Kondo connection becomes more a feature of the process than the final product. Is it a great haiku? Nah. But it makes me smile.
UPDATE (7 April): Swapped in the kanji for misumisō (hepatica/s), 三角草. Thanks to my old friend David K. Groff, translator of The Five Rings, for the advice (and for confirming that the haiku was otherwise sound).
Monotropa uniflora is a woodland myco-heterotroph with several common names, including Indian pipes, corpse plants, and ghost plants. Ghostly pale when alive, after the pipe-shaped flowers are pollinated they turn upwards and darken. The Wikipedia article notes “It is of ephemeral occurrence, depending on the right conditions (moisture after a dry period) to appear full grown within a couple of days.” But unlike many ephemeral wildflowers, it doesn’t just melt away again.