Poetry | Plantlore | Charley Barnes

Eruca sativa | Drowsy Venus

But you have never been drowsy.
Instead, you’ve been a garden rich
in roka, reaching skyward and wrapping
fingers into the cushions
of the clouds. Not tired or tiresome –
only tiring, relentless in the ways
that you reinvent religious structures,
make me workshop outside monastery walls.
I could hardly call your landscape a nunnery –
more like a solar system, Venus.
More like an Eden.

Eruca sativa has historically been used as an aphrodisiac. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to have such a sexual potency that it was allegedly banned from being grown inside monastery walls.

Arisarum larus | Wasteland

I belong to the rock and shrubland.
Hooded, here I am left to revel in my ferocity
without fear of others – other.

I’m happy to enclose myself, a sheath
over a blade and a lie with webbing
of truths – these unknowns
are nothing to me. Confessional,
I’m no friar nor have I pretended
to be but my own – scowl, remains.

Creatures come to these woods, wasted
space, suspecting to share sins –
but I catch them, make a collection bowl
of my hood. I’ll partner with them one day.

Arisarum larus is associated with deceit and ferocity. The plant, which prefers wastelands, wooded areas and rocky terrains, grows with a hood that covers its flowering. It is sometimes known as ‘friar’s cowl’.

Charley Barnes is an author, academic and poet based in the West Midlands. She is a Lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Wolverhampton, and the current Managing Director of Sabotage Reviews. Charley’s full debut poetry collection, Lore, is available through Black Pear Press, and she also writes crime fiction as Charlotte Barnes.  

Twitter: @charleyblogs
Instagram: @charleyblogs

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