by Noah Baldino

                        the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, Harvard Museum of Natural History

The ovaries, when splayed, resemble
                        sliced tomatoes. Or rose windows,

each geometry precise enough

                        to praise. I want to press my tongue

against the bloodroot petal, to run
                        its stamen along my slick shelf of

teeth like a man might with a wheat stalk.
                        Four times so far other tourists

have taken me for a gallery
                        attendant. In the glass, a slow-

sidling crimson spreads over my own
                        skewed reflection: a hesitant

teen in a Harvard hoodie, the fifth,
                        leans in to ask, Excuse me, sir?

Are they really glass?—a testament
                        to how my binder encases

my breasts, my faith in the plum yew’s fruit-
                        shorn frenzy. Dense clusters teeming
with their separate blossoms, any
                        unknowing eye might think they were

living. But I know the lilac’s tell:
                        two blemishes, bulbous where some

hot glass mis-dripped, then caught forever
                        in the filament. Sometimes, I think

I’ll wake to find they’ve finally
                        trickled off me in the night, pooled

molten down the bed and gathered
                        back again. I might thrash off both breasts

in a sleepless fit, or could unfurl
                        my clit like a pollen basket passed

from a honeybee’s hind legs
                        to the hive. It makes its secret

seen. I can only answer yes. Yes,
                        they’re real. I mean, they’re really glass

You could snap a stem between fingers

                        with such a slight force, one stark blink—

the flies flitting the gallery would fear
                        the weight of their own landing,

thick wings rapt still. When the public,
                        in their distressed astonishment,

demanded to know how the Blaschkas
                        transported the models without

a fracture in even one pistil,
                        Leopold Blaschka revealed his own

elaborate process: pack each
                        flower tightly in its cardboard

cradle, then strap them down with strong wire
                        to restrict movement, and set each, at last,

in a wooden box wrapped with burlap.
                        They drove them straight from Manhattan

in two hearses. The drivers, of course,
                        wore black suits. Onlookers parted

to allow their small procession past.
                        I like it here, with everyone

focused on the flowers. Hunched, kneeling,
                        as if suspicious, still doubting,

the teen eyes two tiny zinnias,
                        then moves on to another case.

I’ve seen many leave unsatisfied.
                        They can’t bear to be partitioned—

how can I blame them? Someone made these
                        with their body. They let their breath

unspool to form each impossible
                        bud, crafted every flower’s fold,

then waited on the heat to break to
                        hold just one, wearing special gloves.

Wouldn’t anyone wish for just one lie
                        among a garden this precise?

One daisy swapped out in secret, switched
                        with a common courtyard flower,

now waiting for someone to notice
                        its wilt while its counterparts keep

all their glisten. It does seem to me
                        true punishment: never to change.

Unflinching forever. Sometimes, near
                        closing, when the hall becomes quiet,

I really do believe they’re real.

This poem was originally published in POETRY.

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