The 2.6 Challenge: 26 Wildflower Poems for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust

Between the 26th of April and the 3rd of May I took part in the 2.6 Challenge by writing 26 wildflower poems to raise money for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. Through the kind support of the followers of this blog I not only met my £260 target but raised £349 to help LWT continue to carry out their valuable work managing local habitats for wildlife and people. Below is a selection of the poems.

1. Primroses at the Junction

Prima rosa they say
you are the first of flowers.
Primula vulgaris they say
that you are common

as dirt, this sacred dirt,
this holy dirt in which I dig,
overturning pieces of clinker –
memories of railway line.

Ghosts linger of navvies.
Ghost trains thunder by filled
with wide-eyed passengers
staring at flower-planters.

At the junction times
and worlds collide. That me
failed to glimpse this me in
the future at a standstill

where primroses thrive
common and holy as dirt
at what feels like the end or
the beginning of the line.

4. That Little White Flower

You’re the little brown job
of the wildflower world

seen everywhere but never
named (by this amateur
wildflower spotter at least!).

Woodland-edger, little crack
lurker, pavement-lover, bridge-
walker, stair-climber, hardy
white-flower hairy-stemmed
with winning rosette of leaves

it takes me years of peering
into the cracks of books chewing
the cud of internet’s tasteless pages
to find out you are hairy bitter-cress,
lamb’s cress, land cress, spring cress,
the stune of the Anglo-Saxon charm
standing heroically against poison.

Perhaps you save us just a little
when you walk these deadly streets
from the choke of exhausts from
the poison without and within.

If only more of us could thank you
by speaking by your names.

5. Herding Cows

They slip into time –
a herd of fairy cattle
with yellow faces

spilling their colours
on the railway banks
munching sunshine.

Happy and contented
until the fairy woman

calls out their names:

Bold Yellow,
Miss Yellow Hood,
White Yellow Eared,
Yellow Feet Dancing,
Quickest of Yellows,
Old Yellow Tail,
Yellow’s End.

Until the fairy woman
calls them back to yellow
the hills of her domain.

8. You May…

Call me May Flower.
Call me Cuckoo Flower.
Call me Lady’s Smock.
Call me Milk Maids

with my white skirts
carrying four shiny pails
pretty in the meadows
on the first of May.

After sunset you may
call me anything you want
except your fragile flower,
your darling May bud.

9. The Bell Without a Ringer

You are the bell that tolls without a ringer
on the first of May – the Fairy King is Dead!

Who? Who killed him? Who made you so blue?
Do you not know that he is eternal and will rise

again from his tomb in the Castle of Cold Stone?
The landscape sways to the nodding of your

hooded heads before from your green leaves
steps the Fairy Queen and her new King.

A brand new tolling across the woodland –
the King is dead! Long live the King!

12. Cow Parsley’s Present

You grow up madly like a child
throwing styrofoam out of a box.
Your mad growth is bottomless.
Nobody knows what you got.

14. Theme Park

You are a theme park
of a flower lantern-headed
your purple and orange signs
always say open never closed.

The common carder bee loves
to swing from you red-tailed
bumblebee and honeybee
the flies I cannot name.

You thrive because you
run not on money and profit
but on nectar freely given when
our theme parks are shut down.

I come to Water Avens a tiny
passenger on fly-back promise
to carry my share of pollen for
one ride in your nodding car.

17. Horsetail

I pull it out.

It pulls me down,
clinging to the contrary
mare’s dock to a swamp where
it grows tree tall.

A helicopter lies
crashed like a dragonfly,
multicoloured wires hanging out,
propeller spinning, four diaphanous
wings folded, broken,
like a child’s toy.

Its imprint is like a fossil.

Toy soldiers
with tiny guns gather round.
They flee when they smell
the burning petrol.

21. Hedge Twinkler

sparkler in a thorny night
purple periwinkle winking
from Creiddylad’s garden
flower of the fairy sight.

26. Healing Prayer

Self-heal, woundwort,
brownwort, heart-of-the-earth
with purple cones and lance-like leaves
will you lance our wounds retune
our energy help us heal-all?

*Page updated from poetry half marathon to this summary and selection 06/05/2020.

3 thoughts on “The 2.6 Challenge: 26 Wildflower Poems for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust

  1. Greg Hill says:

    Congratulations on reaching the finishing line!

    Lovely to read all these poems and see the pics of the flowers, particularly Water Avens, which I have a vivid memory of seeing growing across a bank above a fjord in Norway. It’s the only one I don’t recall seeing here – I really must get some for my garden.

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