The daisies close their tired eyes
Wild bluebells call the fairies home
The tulips point up to the skies
The parks and fields at dusk I roam
The spider weaves a silky maze
Puff balls in flight to hope and health
Round Emley Moor a distant haze
A cat looks up then moves with stealth
The time to pause. The time to hear
The time to breathe. Not time for fear
Above and Below
rise from stubborn roots
and tongued leaves
bright stars against
the ribbed slate night.
An ant creeps along
the herringbone road
while overhead green shanks
support milkwhite openness,
yellow pinheads of pollen.
-Angela Topping (from Paper Patterns (Lapwing 2012))
Dandelions For Mothers’ Day
“Pee-the-Beds” and “Mother-Die!”
“Pick it and your mam’ll die!”
“Faces like the sun.” she said
Plunged them in a jam-jar.
But they caught up with her: –
Stained her skin yellow,
Turned her hair to seed-clocks,
Blew away her years.
-Angela Topping (from her first collection)
I wanted to write a poem about cowslips, because, taking
my Covid 19 exercise, I saw some on a grassy bank
beside the beck and thought Oh they’re not extinct at all,
remembering fields of them on walks with Dad,
those freckled yellow bells where Prospero’s sprite
Ariel couched, wobbling above tooth-nibbled green rosettes,
scent similar to apricots, petals distilled to pale wine sipped
by country maids, bucolic vicars in Elizabeth Gaskill novels.
St Peter’s Keys, the rustics called them – they sprang up
from where he dropped the means of getting into Heaven.
Then I discovered the most likely origin of their name.
They like to flower where cows have slupped or slopped,
bob among the pats, the crusty mottle wobbling above
liquid green, where skinny orange flies paddle and probe.
I remember plodging a plastic sandal accidentally in,
watching white sock soak up the viscous sludge.
My kids, out on the same walks, would taunt each other,
threaten to drop stones – plop – into the shite,
spray it up legs, up backs, sometimes did.
Cowslup, Cowslop. Cowslip.
I still like them though.
Pretty as a picture in white and pink
Lady Convolvulus lifts up her head.
The jewels of the morning adorn her cheeks
and her green gown winds about her legs.
And my lady creeps and my lady runs.
On a summer wind she blows.
When she tilts her chin to kiss the sun
she will follow where he goes.
Yet my lady sighs and my lady weeps.
My lady cleaves and clings.
Till she binds her lover where he sleeps.
A green and fecund web she spins.
(first published Hysteria Poetry Competition, Winners’ Anthology, 2014)
The honeysuckle hides her jewel
in hedgerows thick with thorn.
And blackbird sings most tunefully
where weeds in wheels conceal his song.
To blossom and to sing we too
require a privacy.
To flourish occurs best
in hearts attuned to mystery.
Sweet campion comes late in May
when golden king cups raise their heads
and all about the tawny carn
a merry May-time madness spreads
As bluebells fade like ghosts away
and bow their faces to the dust
while hedgerows sing and daisies dan.e
and grass leaps up because it must.
It’s then in pink and white and red
this spring-time’s maiden green is dressed.
And all through June she lingers on
as summer’s modest, lovely guest.
Once pretty in pink
you are innocent no longer
but frowsy now
under the sun.
Your head lolls
like a drowsing drunk’s
towards the lulling,
oblivion of sleep.
Briefly you flourished
where the old wall cracks,
your slender roots
fingering this dust.
Now you dig down deep
for the cooling dark,
grimly holding out,
-Abigail Elizabeth Ottley
Pluck all on the lawn, turn my back and more
appear. I should poison them all, be rid.
But, I do not want to open the door
of making our cats ill, which is sordid.
Whenever a child dies God sprinkles earth
with Daisies. Freya’s favourite flower.
I would slaughter innocents for the worth
of a pure lawn. It’s within my power
to purify the green destroy yellow.
I deem, dictate what’s a weed and what’s not.
Perhaps, I should rewild a bit, allow
Daisies in only one part of my plot.
Delusions of grandeur, an obsessive
space manipulator, an oppressive.
Bios and Links
-Abigail Elizabeth Ottley
writes poetry and short fiction. Her work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines, journals and anthologies. A former English teacher with a lifelong interest in history, Abigail lives in Penzance where she cares for her very elderly mother and is currently writing her first novel.