Wombwell Rainbow Book Reviews: “Where Flora Sings” by Margaret Royall

When Flora Sings

Her book is divided into two sections; Flower Power/People Power, and Roses and Thorns: A Retrospective on Life’s Triumphs and Trials.

Looking at the first section.

Each flower is examined through our relationship with it, rather than a look at the life of the flower.

 “BUTTERCUP”  begins with an event that made me smile, because I remember doing it, and it being done to me as a child. The putting of the petals of the flower under your chin to see whether you liked butter. Such a tender moment, that in the poem becomes a memory of the person that did it. Nostalgia brought up sharply into grief.

The theme of dealing with grief is suggested by an “In Memoriam” before the contents. The book is dedicated to Virginia Mustard (my dear late friend, Ginnie) who loved all flowers, especially sunflowers”.

In “WILD POPPIES”

Each one a dear friend,
remembered fondly every
day, held close in prayer,
like blood-red droplets trickling
from a wound which never heals.

Nature as an orchestra. Paganism often referred to in the form of fairies and Saturn and magic. 

In “THE HOLLY AND THE IVY”

These rites still prevail in the fabric of earth
And we still gather berries and deck out our homes,
Using these symbols to mark Christian birth,
Forgetting their origin on old pagan stones.

Christian Easter only once.

Exceedingly visceral description brings a time and place to life in “LADY WITH LAVENDER AURA”:

She hears the electric hum of bees in lupin throats,
watches fingers pluck flowers from air-raid shelter walls,
Breathes in carbolic soap from the hard-scrubbed nails
of her dad, stripped off to wash in the kitchen sink,
Drools as her mum lifts milk-topped scones from
the blackened side-oven – Mrs Beaton’s, of course.
On elbow crooks and freckled wrists she drips
the oil, cuts on her fingers stinging like vinegar.

“DRAGONFLY” the final poem describes the fleetingness of life, and joy:

banishing the inky-black maelstrom
within me, rekindling extinguished
flames of passion, long pulped to ash
in a broken heart.

Together for a nano-second
we tasted eternity.

In “Section Two: Roses and Thorns: A Retrospective on Life’s Triumphs and Trials.” most of the poems are inspired by other folks poems and music or dedicated to folk. The first poem speaks of being reborn, the last of deep sleep. The poems deepen the exploration of grief, of something lost, something regained, or never regained. Again, the orchestral metaphor, specifically in the first poem inspired by Ralph Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending”., and “REQUIEM FOR A CELLIST”, Then throughout the section music choral and otherwise become a metaphor for the movement of nature as in:

TWO SOULS RETURN IN SEARCH OF A LOST EDEN

In memory of Garry and Judith, forever in my heart

How still it is! Waiting measured in raindrop crotchets,

A celebration of childhood excitement in “FLASHBACK AND PROLEPSIS”, then of het grandma. All poems of recall.

The final poem in the collection is “THE POET AT NIGHT” A Celebration of the Joy of writing Poetry. sums up the whole book in this phrase:

Virtual sonnets
ripe for inscription dance across
the linen canvas of a blotting paper sky.

Tenderness , memory and celebration worked through so that it is a book of surprises. A necessary journey that may be bought here: Where Flora Sings

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