Poem A Day: A Science Poem

I kept this orchid alive for a year which suggests to me that this is a magic orchid.

Here’s an early draft of a poem I wrote as part of a ‘poem a day’ challenge I’m doing with my friend. We have a load of prompts and we pick one each day to write from. The idea is to send the results to each other by 10am. So far, so good!

The prompt for this one was ‘a science poem’. I thought about osmosis, which was my favourite thing in GCSE Biology, and is the reason that you should always put a layer of butter or mayonnaise between the bread and the salad in a sandwich.

Emily x


You cost us eighty nine pence
a whole life in a pot
with change from a pound.
You sailed along the conveyor belt
between loo rolls and baked
beans. Behind toothpaste
and cheddar cheese.
And we killed you within a week.
You brought
your whole life
with you
to bloom out on our
windowsill, offering up
aniseed scent
redolent of Italy
where you
might have sun basked
in Venetian window boxes
or whiled away Seville
evenings with buxom
beefsteak tomatoes or
become stickily consumed
by the heady liquors
of Modena.
But instead
you were seed freighted
to a warehouse nursery
in Somewhere on Trent
or Nowhere under Lyme
lorry loaded and forced
to shoot up behind
stainless steel walls.
Stacked and
bagged and
shelved and
plucked and
crammed and
scanned and
bagged and
on our windowsill
to die because
neither he
nor I
to water you.
But you lived until you died.
You smiled
until your last –
always looking
outwards with
garden dreams
in your eyes.
Emerald rich with
shamrock luck –
plumped up with pride
until the soil dried up
and took your pluck
with it.
It wasn’t until I
saw you like that
– distressed and deprived
and drowning in sepia –
that I mustered the drive
to plunge you under the cold tap
to jolt your heart –
to tear out your dead leaves
to give you some air –
to move you into the sun –
to sit you in a saucer of water
so you might sip at your leisure.
And to my surprise
you got better.
Plumping out your
leaves and growing
taller by degrees
and turning your
face to the sun and
unfurling new ideas.
Now you’re three
months old
and twice as tall
as when we met.
A little fuller in the face.
More relaxed. Evolved.
Less contained than
back then.
I won’t ignore you again.
But I won’t use you either.
You’re no longer
an ingredient.
A monument to life
For living, not consuming,
since you returned
from the dead.

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