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“Orchids Are Sprouting From The Floorboards” by Kaveh Akbar: A Review and Analysis

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Reading and reviewing poetry is a burning and thriving passion of mine, but in the past week, I was introduced to a new favorite poem and I would love to share my interpretation of it!

Orchids Are Sprouting From The Floorboards” is a phenomenal list poem written by Kaveh Akbar, and as someone who is currently processing the loss of an incredibly close friend, this poem was one that I had an instant connection with.

The imagery of orchids runs thick through this piece, from the title to the closing. The significance of this choice of flower is that while orchids are a symbol for a number of things – beauty, love and strength – they also are a symbol for death, due to a phase of death-like dormancy that they enter before flowering again. 

The last line, “Oh, Lydia, we miss you terribly” is the only line that does not possess the imagery of an orchid. As such, this gave me the idea that she is “the orchid” for the author of the piece. Lydia was the symbol of beauty and strength, and it is likely that orchids were present at her funeral, which means that the flower is a living representation of someone that is no longer with us. 

Every orchid reminds the author of this person that is lost, and as someone who is grieving currently, I certainly feel like I see my friend everywhere, so this concept resonates heavily. 

I wonder if the lines “Mothers fill bottles with warm orchids to feed their infants, who are orchids themselves” represents the fact that Lydia was still a child herself, and has never had the chance to become a mother. 

I also wonder what the other lines mean in correlation to Lydia. Does each line have a special correlation to her and her life, or is it just the fact that she is everything? She is everywhere now that she is nowhere. 

In general, this poem uses amazing metaphors and is a fantastic elegy which tells the story of someone in a format as ever-living as she is.

Cassidy Howard is in her second year at Michigan State, and her second semester with Her Campus. She is a social media assistant for the Michigan State Chapter. She is pursuing a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing. She loves writing in all forms and has had poetry shared in a global conference connected to the Corona Multimedia Showcase and was a member of the 2021 InsideOut Youth Performance Troupe, sponsored by Toyota, in addition to being able to perform some poetry on PBS’ Detroit Performs. More recently she has had poems shared in The State News and performed at MSU's 2023 FemFest. When not writing articles or working on her first published book of poetry she loves to listen to music and spend time with her cats- Thomas and Shadow.