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for Elise Oliver


If, when I grow even older than I am

now and were, perhaps, too old to make poems,

I would become a sower of wildflowers.


Each year, I would begin with the Narrows,

an ancient path where our street ends –

where children are walked to school, commuters

walk to work, and revellers sway home

caterwauling. Each spring and summer

in the unkempt verges there would be the sight

and scent of Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Kidney Vetch,

Viper’s Bugloss, Common Agrimony.


Next I would target driveways that had been

front gardens. Under cover of masking

a cough or saluting an imagined friend

I would scatter Yarrow, Borage, Cornflower,

Common Goatsbeard, Purple Loosestrife, Herb Robert.


There is a section of our local park,

between a laurel hedge and cast iron railings,

a glade of Stygian dimness, filled

with modest monuments to the dead.

I would broadcast Field Forget-me-not,

Meadowsweet, Welsh Poppy, Cowslip, Corn Cockle.


To plan for when I could no longer shuffle

about the neighbourhood I would recruit

a volunteer band of almost antiques.

I would train them in our back garden

in techniques of broadcasting and dissembling,

and receive their reports, in due course,

on our colonisers’ colours, perfumes,

the roll-call of their names.






© Copyright David Selzer
4 Responses
  • John Huddart
    March 26, 2021

    Oh, David, that is a delight. To take these humble flowers and make their names stand as soldiers in a rebellion against age, and a celebration of a wonderful natural inventory, whose names resonate so perfectly.

  • Ashen Venema
    March 26, 2021

    A sower of wildflowers, the perfect warrior our time calls for. A splendid idea. I’ll look up some of these beauties and follow your example.

  • Elise Oliver
    March 27, 2021

    Much appreciated by an antique volunteer of the Guerrilla Gardener’s Army. A fitting obituary for the warrior who has sown an immeasurable and anonymous legacy in and along many ways. ‘It was a perfect day for sowing; just as sweet and dry was the ground as tobacco-dust… And now, hark at the rain, windless and light, half a kiss, half a tear, saying good-night.’ (Edward Thomas)

  • Jeff Teasdale
    March 31, 2021

    Again, very thought-provoking David.
    Last year we were sent a packet of wildflower seeds by 38 Degrees. Duly planted in seed trays – not cast around into random borders; it rarely works – and were rewarded by hundreds of small shoots almost instantly.
    These were divided like squares of slab cake or cress and replanted into bigger pots, some going to friends, some into our garden, some to the wilds of north west Anglesey. They all grew profusely…
    This autumn we collected all the seeds (nothing much else to do!) and sent them out in packets to yet more friends for Christmas, and the rest just chucked into three seed trays….all growing again.
    And my latest gift from 38 Degrees has just arrived!

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