My grandmother perfected the art of pressing flowers,
collecting them the way some people gather stamps
from countries they’ve never seen. There was Edelweiss
from Austria, Scottish bluebells, red poppies that blazed
the slopes of Corfu and Santorini. She ordered the rare
and exotic from catalogues, and when they arrived, wrapped
in tissue paper, she stuck them in encyclopedia pages next
to the places they came from. Cheek to jowl with images
of national monuments, presidents and kings.
After the blossoms were dried and flat and brittle,
she glued them onto velvet, arranged into shapes of gardens
and bouquets, boats sailing on a blue petalled sea.
Once, with nothing but a backpack and lust
for wander, I hiked Alpine meadows, the highlands and moors
where wildflowers perfumed an abundance next to the paths.
With the purity of youth, I left blossoms rooted, did not
want to pick them, not even for her. Now that I’m as old as she
when I was a child, I think of my grandmother
hunched over her kitchen table, surrounded by dried flowers,
peering through a magnifying glass to examine their fine markings,
the delicate whorls and patterns only nature could create.
She was happiest there, surrounded by flora from so many places.
She let the world come to her, with all its tiny blue flowers,
fiddlehead ferns, the soft-petalled pansies that grew in her own back yard.
Connie Soper’s poems have appeared in Ekphrastic Review, Catamaran, Cider Press Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and elsewhere. She divides her time between Portland and Manzanita, Oregon. Her first full length book of poetry, A Story Interrupted, was published by Airlie Press in 2022. She is currently at work on her second collection.