The University Herbarium is a place of wonder, a place where science and beauty walk hand in hand. The compelling need to discover, to record, to teach; all this is there.
This poem is a hymn to wild flowers, and to sharing that joy with my first grandchild, Beth.
We're pressing flowers. Beth tightens screws
until the buttercup is bleeding yellow. I want
her to have the names, the magic that starts:
Archangel, Bugle, Corncockle, Mayweed,
Toadflax to Wolf's Bane, the count of petals,
where we found them, the month and weather -
first buttercup, in the wind and rain, long field,
February, Cornwall. Bees like yellow. We draw
a bee. Dried stalks of things fall out of all my books:
Alhambra, Granada, a dark rose, its scent long gone,
and a note that says - June, hot and thirsty, golden fish
in a long pond, the moon falls as stars through the ceilings.
Water Crowfoot, Goats Rue, Bedstraw. Lady's Smock,
vanilla touched with mauve, lilac – Churchbridge,
the field is full of them, a pale lake pulling at the throat
of May. Blackthorn.That page is torn. Dogrose, a smear
of blood. July - Foxglove, fat and speckled, badly
squashed. Gorse, no cloying smell but the colour
of sun blazing. A grandmother should have secrets,
share them. We take two 2lb weights that sit beside
my scales, talk of patience, a space of time, how they'll
change, how we'll have to close our eyes to see them,
because this isn't science. We're pressing beauty.