My father knew the Latin names,
family, subfamily, genus, species.
He told me them, over and over
on weekend walks down the Pithay.
By eleven, old enough to learn myself,
he bought me my own copy
of Keble Martin’s Concise British Flora
for my birthday.
He’d left home by then,
had moved to a basement flat,
1, All Saints Road, Bristol
and our weekends were museums
but he marked the book and graded
the families: ‘very very important,’
‘important’ and ‘not’. I was to master
Compositae, Rosaceae, Gramineae.
I took the long way home from school
to pick flowers. At home I’d lie them
next to Keble Martin’s pictures
to find their family and name.
Plate 47: ragwort, groundsel.
Then I’d press them between the pages
till their stems hardened
and their yellow petals turned brown.
Kate Hendry is a writer, editor and tutor based in Edinburgh. Her poetry has been published in or is forthcoming in magazines such as Agenda, Gutter, The North, The Reader and The Rialto. Her first collection of poems will be published by HappenStance Press in 2016.