The Orchid

by Cullen McMahon

What is the word that describes the feeling you have when, on returning home Mother’s Day morning with bagels and coffee and, on the passenger seat beside you, an orchid (the last available orchid, in fact, $89.50, “a beaut” said the sales girl), you park in the garage and, because the garage is hot, and because lately—which is to say, since certain events have come to light—you have taken to sitting quietly in your car at various hours and meditating on the point of it all, for these two reasons, the one empirical, the other somewhat abstract (and yet no less empirical for being abstract), you roll down the passenger window, not realizing (you later realize) that the very tip of the orchid is resting against the velvet-like strip through which the window glass slides, or rather at the very juncture of the glass and the velvet-like strip, such that now, when the window descends, the orchid is encouraged into the window cavity and that by the time you notice what is happening two thirds of the orchid have been swallowed up, a truly monstrous sight, a crime scene of sorts, so much so that you gasp, and thinking (wrongly, but only because there is no rightly) you can save the orchid by reversing the action, by rolling the window up, you do so, and yet what emerges isn’t the orchid but ten or so inches of mangled vine, stripped organic matter, a green string. You stare at this thing, and then your wife opens the garage door.


What is the word that describes the feeling you have at this precise moment? Perhaps, you think, the word is not an English word, but a word in some other language.