The Garden Body: A Florilegium


A pepper of  bees opens the pupils.
An ensemble of aromatics
Chorus aphrodisia, mariner’s root,
bright sky and night star, heavenly
rainbow. Amethyst, azure, blue
flower-de-luce. Flowering ring.

White archangelic the bee nettle,
the dead nettle. A hide of nettle cloth,
of finely-nerved sedge. Take heed
the edges, the pipes, the passages,
the petal corridor, the corolla tube.

A blossom is a throat. Rose oil and hip.
A ripped rose is a voice organ, time-cut
and curt. Royally red and confidence-
keeping, redder than Mars, redder than
hot days and parched, Venus on the lips.


Muscle rose. Flesh rose.
A verge toward red
Then rustling redshank rose.
Vines ascend the arch of aorta.
Mercurial, the climbing nightshade,
the bundle-branched bittersweet.

White-spotted hellebore under Jupiter
and wind. Oak lungs, jovial lungs.
Sea rush blows the lungs with sweet rose,
carmine and sanguine, flaming red.
Candleberry fires the blood.

Red is antispasmodic, cardiovascular.
Great garden patience of Mars.
May-blossom, hawthorn. Spring
gushes red-veined with sorrel, bloodwort
below Jupiter, red dock for longevity.


Venus stokes the throatwort.
Ringing with wasps
The good leaf. The rose noble.
L’herbe du siège slackens
the isthmus of the fauces.
Gash-red and choking rose.

Double tongue. Bay laurel.
Daphne of the sun.
Yarrow charms wasps,
snuffs the inveterate headache.
Daphne sings the bees from the ears.

The voice reeds are a Queen Anne’s lace
of wasps. Mercury abounds with buzz
and wild carrot, jump-starts speech
with hoar-strange words, a gargle
of hog’s fennel and brimstone wort.


Under Leo, composure.
Touchwood and rue
Herb of grace. Anti-magical.
Vinegar of the four thieves.
Poison against poison. Rue before regret.
Touch wood Ruta sets the garden free.

Lightning sulfur the garden prone
to primrose and paroxysm. Pellitory-
of-the-wall quells old hacking. An old cough.
A new moon courtesy of wild clary.
Eyebright. Clear eye (en toute bonne foi).

Sweep away the broom, the burdock,
the beastly antipathy between ash tree
and adder. Snakeweed. Dragon’s blood.
Devil’s bit. Serpent’s tongue. Wickedness
(a weak moon) licked & licked & licked.


What a commotion! Wild rocket, a racket
Flesh and blood
of wake robin, cuckoo point, the clear
caroling rise & fall. Volatile dog’s mercury.
Dog’s-grass. Dog rose. Hot fits and cold
metallic blue. The indecisive indigo.

So the garden bellyaches. So what
the gripes? Rows rife with tormentil,
gallant herb of the sun. Five fingers,
flesh and blood. Stamina, life’s long
thread, root-red, the unhindered heart.

Leaves respire and rain returns blood-veined
and blood dock, blood-colored juices. Red poppy
a headache. Heartichoke the downhearted.
Loosestrife calms the fugitive scarlet.
Sweet slumber. The fleshy rootstock.


Enlist imagination under the banner of science.
Erasmus Darwin,
Flora attired by the elements.
his Botanic Muse
Sea lavender, sea holly, sundrops.
Jacob’s ladder reaching ether.
Wind rose. Sun rose. Water grass.

The loves of the plants. (The economy of vegetation.)
Root, pith, lobes, plume, calyx, coral, sap.
Air distributes the seeds of names.
Windflower, digitalis. Tipsy and ethereal.
Trade winds, vital light. Seeds within seeds.

Start from the soil, and win their airy way.
The fifty-seeded heart’s delight, saturnine
and doting wild. Heart’s-ease. Herb constancy.
Pensée    ...    An opening. Call-me-to-you. Kiss-her-
in-the-buttery. Meet-me-in-the-entry.


The yard wants what the yard wants.
Bloom of Ruth. Breath of life. Blush.
Charisma. Compassion. Imagination.
Ebb Tide and Nostalgia. Ground cover
and climbers. Floribunda. Abundance.

A hybrid of bruise and steep, petal and dreg.
Lungfuls of lamp flower, rose campion,
rose of heaven. The moon shoulders roseroot,
rosy-colored stonecrop. The neck laced with
French rose, common rose, pomander of roses.

At the center of the garden the heart.
Red as any rose. Pulsing
balloon vine. Love in a puff.
Heartseed, heart-of-the-earth.
A continuous flow of red.


Nosebleed, staunchweed, sanguinary.
Thousand-leaved root of yellow.
Thousand weed with leaves like feathers.
Small birds flirt herb-of-Venus’ tree.
If my love love me, nosebleed and yarrow.

Feverfew-profuse June and July.
Agueweed, sweating-plant,
boneset with yellow thrum.
Venus yields to water.
Boneset breaks the sun.

Past mudwalls and molehills,
where the cowslips and the lungs moss,
hedge bells, morning glory and the hundred-leaved
rose, all the livelong organs rose — 
a catalogue, a desire, a wish.


Chaffweed whups the chin-cough.
Life everlasting
Venus hiccups dry wind and sandy rows.
The garden ruminates cudweed,
creeping roots June through September.
Pearl-flowered. Eternal flower.

Take flower-gentle.
Take knitbone and knitback.
Ass ear. Blackwort. Slippery root.
Saturn’s orbit comfrey-picked and sea-goat-prickly.
Take sea wrack, knobbed wrack, bladderwrack.

Paralysis and palsywort the garden
supplants fool’s parsley with imperatives!
Forget-me-not. Forget-me-not. Forget-me-not.
Mouse-ear to the ground. Borage for courage.
Self-heal. All-heal. By crook or by hook-heal.


La voilà! Horsetail and paddock-pipes.
Viola organista
A hurdy-gurdyish drone.
Pansy-meek with cattail and fretted tension.
The over-thinking viola.

Liverwort, liverleaf, liverweed. A low sun
and Jupiter presumes three-lobed hepatica.
Water hectors wind and wind blows sound
into lungwort, bladderwort, kidneywort,
the kidney-leaved sower weed, the hartwort.

Dame de coeur. The crowning heart.
The garden wants it all: leaf, stem, root,
the whole shooting match shoot system,
timbre, pitch, fully chromatic rows,
heart trefoil and arssmart under sun.
More Poems by Sylvia Legris