nature field flowers bloom
Plumbaginaceae and Gentianaceae

Come into the saline habitat not to escape
your own species, but to encounter them
and Gaia as well, all things full of Her –

each dewdrop a holy anointing
of Sea lavender and Lesser centaury.
In salines along the coasts,

on beaches and sabkha edges,
that halophytic low shrub –
Qataf, the natives named it –

thriving, its fleshy leaves secreting salts,
its miniscule flowers housed in a naked
terminal panicle, blooming March till May.

In moist habitats, the annual glabrous herb,
Branched centaury, stiff-stemmed,
the whole of it a lax flat-topped cluster

of inflorescence, naturalized weed.
You will need no sweeter place
to lie down once stars appear. You,

with your dusty feet, could entrust yourself
to a peaceful sleep there among
Sea lavender and Lesser centaury.

You would awaken into joy
and reunion, free from the idolatry
of money and rampant greed.

Finally flourishing in, of all places,
the desert’s heart – fertile ground producing
not only growth and blossoming of

leadworts and gentians, but your own
rebirth. You would disappear to spurt
into something new that masters your earthly form

as you pour yourself out like a stream.
Stay till the dawn’s crest swallows the moon.
Romantic love a deceiver, you turn now

and forever after to the brown earth
that’s graced you with a second birth.
On sun-drenched salines beside irrigation canals

full of bully common mynahs,
melodious white-cheeked bulbuls,
ubiquitous quarreling sparrows

drinking and eating their fill,
pray for the children of this land as they inhale
petroleum’s by-products more deadly

than the banned elixir of fine
spirits and wine. Ask Sea lavender
and Lesser centaury to save them.

Diana Woodcock

Diana Woodcock is the author of seven chapbooks and four poetry collections, most recently Facing Aridity, published in 2021 as a finalist for the 2020 Prism Prize for Climate Literature (Homebound Publications/Wayfarer Books). Forthcoming in 2023 is Holy Sparks (a finalist for the 2020 Paraclete Press Poetry Award). Recipient of the 2011 Vernice Quebodeaux Pathways Poetry Prize for Women for her debut collection, Swaying on the Elephant’s Shoulders, her work appears in Best New Poets 2008 and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Currently teaching at VCUarts Qatar, she holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, where her research was an inquiry into the role of poetry in the search for an environmental ethic.