Emily Dickinson's Herbarium.
It's all I have to bring today--This, and my heart beside--
--ED, Poem 17
EMILY DICKINSON'S HERBARIUM Page 1: Horse Balm So begin, child, with one at hand, this weedish angel of boggy shade, "clergyman's friend," his cure for hoarseness; splay its serrate wings into service as a seal of royal entitlement. In quadrants, set barberry, privet, vetch, and in pride of place a spray of common jasmine, hold its heady scent to the brittling page with narrow paper strips--then press its four florescences just so: two Venus-flounced and flared, two pursed like Cupid's penis-bud--the paired pinnate leaves already a laureled crown for the whole Bright Affair. Page 2: Wild Ginger These inverted hearts can conjure a maharani's lavish fans for a girl at her book on summer's divan; their wildly imagined aromatic snaps might sharpen on the tongue. Let's grace this page with pungent marigold, though its petals will powder to a sulfur's wings, and opposite, mount a racemed camass stalk, its bulb the sweet squill of proximate shores. Page 3: Common Bush Honeysuckle Fix this sprig's six cherubic wings aloft the page, make them worshipful of the three (fading) clustered trumpets' blare, and below--Asclepias' showy orange lure for the Painted Lady who'd sip its bitter tonic--the same that's steeped for a bronchitic child, the one soul-pressed at her window above a garden-blaze of evening primrose, risen full beneath August's waning moon. Page 4: Miterwort Now devise a pun for the eye with this little bishop's cap: crook his nodding grace to the page--in a crosier's curve--and fling his glove-lobed hands in prayer. For balance, let the cure-all mallow swing a musky, heretical incense from its upraised palmate leaves--narrow-toothed, dissected. Page 5: Blue Flag In mudbanks, you lost a shoe, but--scolded--wielded each thyrsos as a prize, then arrayed the petals, let them pale and mullion like dragonflies at the pond where your flame- blue pennants swayed--nor feared to shoo the eager bumblebee who hummed about the sweet-laundered Dutchman's breeches that Spring hung out on lines. You claimed not one feathery spray, but two. Page 6: Blackberry, Poison Ivy, Pitcher Plant This trio conspires to jam the page with foretouched pain: whole fields can prickle in the sun. Once warned--wary them, despite the sugar-tang on bloodied fingertips--and though you mistook for twining bittersweet this ivy's skin-blistering scald, you'll soon know its necklaced pearls--the foraged trove of winter birds--and watch, wasp-eyed, as lacewings kiss this Saracen's lips, descend and disappear--here is the enzyme of the enterprise that will consume you. Page 7: Red Trillium Maggot-gravid flies buzz hosannas to this stinking woodland trinity. It's said, mash their blooms for a poultice to swathe the gangrenous rot of flesh, or daub a tinctured swab to soothe a nursing mother's aching nipples--and numb the child. Believe what you will, but if you sip enough of this beauty's clot-red brew, you'll staunch the flow of the moon. Page 8: Oxeye Daisy, Frostweed Stare back through these two eyes, plucked from lowing fields, your firmament of milky suns. Solitary awe's the constellated path you blaze-- as here, this lonely anchorite of sandy wastes, her candle snuffed in a day, abides in stealthy ecstasy under skies as broad as seas-- her hidden bliss--rare ambergris. Even when shuttered in November's cell, she announces herself each timid dawn--begemmed, more icily than He.