Glass Under Glass

On Dale Chihuly’s glassworks exhibit at
the Phipps Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh

Ladies and gentlemen, what you suspect is true:
alien botanists from the Planet Vitreous
have landed, they have parked their Prisms
somewhere behind this crystalline hangar
and seized horticultural control.  As you can see,
the Tropical Forest has been booby-trapped
with conglomerations of twistiferies,
curling and looming like cobras—
while the Desert Room is skewered now
with purple spikes and periwinkle spindles,
humbling the resident platoons of pale saguaros.

Watch your step, please, as you pass
the Sunken Gardens, where gaping clamshells,
scarlet and cerise (possibly carnivorous)
are either yawning or trolling for trespassers
to pluck and swallow whole. Still further on,
note that a galaxy of miniature suns and planets
has been set afloat—cosmic flotsam on black,
motionless water, lit from above
by a yellow thistle’s exaggerated rays.

Go now.  Thank you for coming.  Spills of ribbed
and ruffled zinnias will direct you to the door.
But be forewarned:  although in here the ferns
and stalks have made way for these immigrants
with their infinite variations on the literal—
the city waits outside, bathed in ordinary sun.

—Marilyn L. Taylor, Milwaukee