The Botanist

By | 1 September 2022

Moving on from the north
in the new millennium, with rolls of film,
a sure eye and a crate of seedlings,
Veronica settled herself in Fitzroy;
strewn with leaves shaped like Canada,
and symbols of the eco conscious,
bullied into a corner – filling for cheap coverlets.
Etched on her thighs are established ciphers
of belief, their shadows held fast,
on kitchen chairs in the Leonard Cohen style.
Seedpods, bark and blooms are recorded
in her sketch book, thick with expectation
and dated in reference to the moon’s phases
or astrological arrangement, her own
orrery with planets fixed in copper rings.

She keeps the seasons close;
mementos catalogued, tied up in black
inked pictographs down her chest
or hand-crafted envelopes pressed with petals.
Behind toilet door, in amber light
of salt lamp, insects of the order Odonata
are pinned – machines in formation
on paper aircraft carrier.
When street lights limn silhouettes
with phosphorescence,
masters of photosynthesis and fecundity
unfold shadows, spilling maps
of ancient rivers and their tributaries.
She traces these spectres
with lipstick over 1960’s wallpaper:
felt diamonds, or gold floral. Using the fork
of a confluence to gain purchase
she moves to the ceiling to capture
her weightlessness and fear – a night garden hangs,
held by threads, perfect as a major fifth.

Her biography, left like evidence
in a Seoul police box; of button-quail,
baskets woven from raspberry cane, and boots
laced with vine, draws her back
to the borrowed light before sun arrives.
In the laundry; beakers, burner, tubes,
distil oils from citrus and flowers.
Plumes of cirrus flow into bottles;
russet, Polish blue or clear as rain.
So with fresh bergamot massaged into her scalp
and ylang-ylang burning on kitchen sill,
Veronica collects information on seasons
watching from Adirondack for the first
of the morning bees, tattooed with braille,
wings splashing behind dark eyes.

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