Painting for the botanist by Heather Montford
Online - 22 July 2020
Painting for the botanist
This poppy has five petals, neither more nor less.
Black anthers, stamens I must count I must not guess.
Seed pod rounded, tiny hairs along the stem.
Is not my smallest brush too wide for them.
Even the red is mixed to find the perfect hue
Leaves not sap green, mix cadmium yellow, Windsor blue
Shadows in neutral tint, no detail must be missed
For accuracy is all, so says the botanist.
But where that poppy, drifting in scarlet cloud in field of wheat.
Redolent of harvest time, of opium sleep and summer heat.
Of Flanders fields and young men dead on foreign grounds.
And old men’s bowed heads in silence as the last post sounds.
But for this task I must paint only what I see
There is no place for dreams of magic, blood and mystery
Only in my thoughts, as carefully I mix the proper shade of red
And counting stamens, remember the unnumbered dead.
by Heather Montford
Poem for the day: Painting for the Botanist