The skunk cabbages have popped out of the muddy spring banks, yellow vagina-shaped cups of stinky spring fertility holding giant phalluses of pollen.
Not to put too fine a point on it.
They are ridiculous flowers, gaudy and not subtle. They grow in thick clusters that fill the damp and fecund places and they smell like rodent anal glands. Not sweet like a flower is supposed to be, drawing you in. Not like the evergreen clematis that is blooming on fences everywhere now, drifts of white four-petaled flowers, filling the air with perfume sweeter than jasmine, sometime a shout, sometimes a whisper: Come closer.
This is how flowers are supposed to be, no? Consider the rose, the peony. Consider even the lowly violet. They call me in with sweetness.
I have done this all my life, too. I know sweetness. I believe in catching more flies with honey.
But the skunk cabbages don’t. And I can’t take my eyes off of them! Nor, as it turns out, do Asian pears, which branches I brought into the house this week and then spent four days sniffing around my house like a deranged bloodhound, wondering where is that cooked trout smell coming from?
WTF stinky flowers? Why?
I know why, actually. Because it attracts a certain kind of pollinator, which is abundant now and loves mud and damp places and sometimes, the smell of rodent anal glands and fish. Spring is so full of pastels. Yesterday I wanted to run out and find myself a yellow dress; the day was so blue and the songs wer everywhere. But also, I noticed the rank smell of skunk cabbages, turning the fecund places over. Because that’s what fertility demands.