New poem from Lydia Macpherson

Lydia is one of my favourite poets currently writing and one of the stars of the Days of Roses anthology. This poem would have been third prize winner in last year’s Poetry London Competition but for some administrative… unpleasantness. Over and above such trophies it is, as always with Lydia’s work, surprising, finely crafted and seriously nifty. Her first collection, when it comes, may not be fair to other first collections.

The Winter Outing of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club, December 1870

The ladies of the party are helped over the stile
by whiskered botanists fond of a well turned ankle.
Miss Taylor draws a notebook from her beaded reticule
and writes “The bunch of mistletoe was so large
that it could be exceedingly well seen from the lane.”

The Reverend Johnson climbs the ladder
“placed with thoughtful consideration” amid banter
from the men about Druids, golden sickles
and garlanded white yearling bulls.

The Reverend drops the felted sticky bundle
and “small sprays of the heaven born plant
unpolluted by any touch of earth” are given out
to “all the ladies present”. Miss Taylor holds
the wishbone sprig with its smeary fruit.
Her whalebone stays are biting, her chilblains
ache, her hem is iced with mud.  She smiles
(Mama says she must always smile).
In the dwindling light the botanists are advancing.

Read more from Lydia here

  1. This is a real pleasure to read. I feel I’m already getting to know and like Miss Taylor, from these economical lines, but I fear she might regard me as just another of those botanists advancing!

  2. I heard Lydia read this (along with other poems) at a Days of Roses evening awhile ago, and it is as impressive to me now as it was then. The tension and pacing are brilliant.

  1. August 22nd, 2011

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