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Purple Flower Poem
(Cambridge University Botanic Gardens)

Among the geranium, a rash
of purple campanula begins,
scattering like Chinese fireworks
through the delicate tan and yellow tips
of saxifrage, encircling a group of bloody
cranes' bills perched on rock. I want
to name these flowers for you,
a litany of colors that begin where
there is hardly any, only the gentlest
hint of evening-flush at the base
of the throats of narcissus and sweet
william, sharing a bed with verbena.
Deep blue and slightly furry as a concord
grape, the salvia cardinalis burns a wine
color of intense sweetness on my tongue.
We could have a curry laksa with it,
even cheese—perhaps a soft brie or kesong
puti sprinkled with peppercorns, or a whole
clove of roasted garlic to smear on the slightly
dusty surface of a saltine cracker. That
reminds me of my grandmother's room
and the smell of her lavender-water,
distilled from the lavandula angustifolia,
whose spears are so rigid to the touch
and announce themselves with such radiant
distinction. I want to glow like them, a field
of me headier than a bottle of decanted scent,
unblushing as a recitation of the contents
of antique pomanders tied with silk string.
Petals pressed into the cool ivory of journal pages:
delphinium, pasque flowers, linseed and flax; linum
perenne, the soft-hooded acanthus spinosus,
purple phlox, and velvet lupine. Veronica
incana, the powderpuff balls of hesperis
matronalis-the ones they call sweet
rockets-clearer than rain, exploding
like breath from the furiously kissed
mouth; like fizzy candy, like eskimo
stars in the milky sky.

© Luisa A. Igloria

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