Afternoon on a Hill
Written by Edna St. Vincent Millay...

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes
And watch the wind bow down the grass
And the grass rise.

And when the lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine
And then start down.

Flowers of Crete

But is there anything more sublime
Than the Englishman’s wife that is willing to climb
            the rockiest, thorniest slope
with abundant hope, and an illustrated
Flowers of Crete in her hand
            bloom-sleuthing for hours
until she has chased
to its least accessible hiding place,
            and then annotated,
                      every specimen
                                listed therein?


Tordylium, Petromarula,
various pea-flowers, Muscari comosum…

Months later I ask for a list
of the flora invading
the goat-track short-cut
we took to the beach,
         and out it comes with its own
         spontaneous lilt.

(A less objective botanist,
I could add

          All but overgrown,
          the twist and the tilt,
          of that path above the bay
          permitted a wading,
          occasionally snagged or stumbling,
          single-filed progress of two –
          in which, more than not,
          I followed you.

Taken from A Scattering, Christopher Reid's tribute to his wife Lucinda Gane, who died in 2005. The book won the Costa Prize 2009 and can be purchased online at www.aretemagazine.com.

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Content © Flowers of Crete, 2007
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