Ghost-Flowers: (Monotropa Uniflora)

IN shining groups, each stem a pearly ray,
Weird flecks of light within the shadowed wood,
They dwell aloof, a spotless sisterhood.
No Angelas, except the wild bird’s lay,
Awakes these forest nuns ; yet, night and day,
Their heads are bent, as if in prayerful mood.
A touch will mar their snow, and tempests rude
Defile ; but in the mist fresh blossoms stray
From spirit-gardens, just beyond our ken.
Each year we seek their virgin haunts, to look
Upon new loveliness, and watch again
Their shy devotions near the singing brook ;
Then, mingling in the dizzy stir of men,
Forget the vows made in that cloistered nook.
Mary Thacher Higginson.