LEST WE FORGET
100 YEARS

PAINTING FOR THE BOTANIST

This Poppy has five petals, neither more nor less.
Black anthers, stamens, I must count I must not guess.
Seed pod rounded, tiny hairs along the stem.
Is not my smallest brush too wide for them.

Even the red is mixed to find the prefect hue
Leaves not sap green, maybe cadmium yellow, Windsor blue
Shadows in neutral tint, no detail must be missed
For accuracy is all, so says the botanist.

But where that poppy, drifting in scarlet cloud in field of wheat.
Redolent of harvest time, of opium sleep and summer heat.
Of Flanders fields and young men dead on foreign ground.
And old men bow heads in silence at the last post sound.

`but for this task I must paint only what I can see
There is no place for dreams of magic, blood and mystery
Only in my thoughts as carefully I mix the proper shade of red
And counting stamens remember the unnumbered dead.

Heather Montford, Botanical Artist