The Orchid Folios
A poetry collection and documentary novella.
“When you take an orchid out of its pot, you must first loosen the roots’ hold on the soil. Late last evening as I unravelled the braids of the shattered Phalaenopsis, I saw how the ends were white and shriveled from neglect. You have to do it gently – it’s like combing hair, Mum had taught me. I remember Mum’s fingers running through mine, and mine through hers, until the final months when all of it started to fall.”
A pot shatters. An arrangement falls apart. A florist unexpectedly finds herself amidst the scattered leaves of history. At once a poetry collection and a documentary novella, The Orchid Folios ponders the orchid as a living, breathing document of history: a history that enmeshes the personal, colonial, linguistic, and biotechnological in Vanda Miss Joaquim, the symbol of Singapore’s postcolonial hybridity. This is an orchid that has been cut, pruned, repotted, arranged and rearranged to adorn our multiracial City in a Garden, a fantastical narrative that has come to shape our cultural consciousness and everyday realities.
Yet, as a living thing, the orchid continues to grow, adapt and bloom on its own terms. This is the organism at the heart of The Orchid Folios – by turns stark and unruly in times of dormancy and proliferation.