Death haunts the streets of Seattle. Though in a good way. After all, this is the place where Kurt Cobain killed himself. It’s where the local NBA franchise, the Supersonics, died and went to Oklahoma City. The manifestation of mortality currently in the news is the Corpse Flower, the giant Sumatran plant that looks like Audrey from “Little Shop of Horrors.” It blooms two or three times in its existence to unfurl a blossom with an enormous stamen-like projection that smells like death.
Thousands flocked to witness it, as did we. Not before going first to the wrong place, however. Which proved a fortunate detour, for not only did the Volunteer’s Park Conservancy offer its own rich selection of beautiful and creepy flora, but it was adjacent to the cemetery in which both Bruce and Brandon Lee were buried, marked by a pair of modest but serene headstones in red and black marble.
But on to the Corpse Flower, holding court down at the University of Washington greenhouse, as it turned out. It had reached its peak a couple of days before and was on its way out, not to bloom again for another two or three years, if ever. Death, you too shall die, or so the poet says. Meanwhile, there was still a lot to look at.
We were somewhat prepared for the sight by a demonstration about the carnivorous pitcher plant by a helpful docent. Let’s just say if you happen to fall into one of these, you should hope that the crab spider gets you before the enzymes do. The appearance, though was especially striking; it looks like a tree of condoms. AS for the Corpse Flower, it didn’t get its Latin name amorphophalos titanum for nothing. Thanatos and eros in one big, vegetable, as Freud might have noted.