We trace, all morning, what we can find
in ditch and by laneside, in fields
and near rivers, and when it grows late
lady's bedstraw traveler's-joy
we let down our skirts, roll up our sketches
and go back to the controlled light
of the orangery. Commanding a view
moon-daisy wild geranium thyme
of placid grass, the ornamental canal,
we complete our small, still surfaces
of color. Darkening filament veins, shading
wintergreen whitethorn flowering rush
quadruplets of petals, a fragile stem,
we rarely touch them. It is our duty
to see them infused with a usefulness
bittersweet self-heal wedding wreath
beyond the merely decorative. The light
instructs us, we try to reveal their life
as if we alone could prove their existence.
silverweed water forget-me-not
They will never be glimpsed in a bedside vase
or strewn among crumbs and spattered tea-things.
We leave them as we find them, open, whole,
field bindweed mountain everlasting
in the place they sprang up from,
the place where they'll die.
While pressed between heavy leather binders
mother's heart yellow archangel
high on a shelf in our husbands' studies,
our paintings wait like vivid children,
children who will never be born.