The wild White Nun, rarest and loveliest of all her kind, takes form in the green shade deep in the forest. Streams of filtered light are tapped, distilled, and lavishly expressed as petals. Her sweet hunger is displayed by the labellum, set for the bees in flight to land on. In her well, the viscin gleams; mesmeric nectar, sticky stuff of dreams.
This orchid’s sexual commerce is confined to flowers of her own class, and nothing less.
And yet for humans she sends so sublime a sensual signal that it melts the mind.
The hunters brave a poisoned wilderness to capture just a few blooms at a time, and even they, least sensitive of men, will stand to look, and sigh, and look again,
Dying of love for what does not love them. Transported to the world, her wiles inspire, the same frustration in rich connoisseurs who pay the price for nourishing the stem
To keep the bloom fresh, as if their desire to live forever, lived again through hers:
But in a day she fades, though every fold be duplicated in fine shades of gold.
Only where she was born, and only for one creature, will she give up everything simply because she is adored; and he must sacrifice himself. The Minotaur, ugly, exhausted, has no gifts to bring except his grief. She opens utterly to show how she can match his tears of pain. He drinks her in, and she him, like the rain.
He sees her, then, at her most beautiful, and he would say so, could she give him speech:
But he must end his life there, near his prize, having been chosen, half man and half bull, to find the heaven that we never reach though seeking it forever. Nothing buys or keeps a revelation that was meant for eyes not ours and once is seen is soon spent:
For all our sakes she should be left alone, guarded by legends of how men went mad merely from tasting her, of monsters who died from her kiss. May this forbidden zone, be drawn for all time. If she ever had a hope to live in, it lies in what we do to curb the longing she arouses. Let Her Be. We are not ready for her yet,
Because we have in mind to make her ours, and she belongs to nobody’s idea of the
sublime but hers. But that we know, or would, if it were not among her powers
always across the miles to bring us near to where she thrives on shadows.
By her glow, we measure darkness; by her splendor, all that is to come,
Or gone beyond recall.