Flora Londinensis

 

Mary Wollstonecraft from Bath, 1779

 

Mary Wollstonecraft from Bath, 1779

I am no invalid to be hung,

suspended amid steam & garbed

in brown like a wilting

champignon, & I am not Quality,

 

anointed with pomatum,

chalked face & hair achieving

architectural heights. I must be

like you, Fanny, or else

 

some new genus altogether

& sick for home. Paint me

meticulous, color-washed shade

of pistil & stamen outlined

 

in firm, accurate black. Linnaeus

knew even the wildflowers,

whether foxglove in Charlton-wood

or violet in a watery ditch,

 

must reproduce like men.

What I know is your hand, pressed

to mine. How it opened me

like a tender mouth, & gasping.

 

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