Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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Fannie Burlingame’s Herbarium
     DeLand, Florida

Magnolia grandiflora
Found in clearing inside a hammock between Minnesota and Pennsylvania Aves.
Coll. 23 Dec. 1886

We garlanded the stairs
with glossy leaves,
tying them with ribbons
red as cardinals.
My sister turned some leaves up
to show the rusty velvet below.

Now mildew freckles
both sides of leaves.
I never pressed May’s petals.
I knew they’d brown
like white lace rotting
inside attic trunks.

Sabal serrulata
Edge of scrub along Euclid Ave.
Coll. 5 Jan. 1887

Decay tames the saw palmetto,
whose leaves bend like broken limbs.
Where I snapped the stipe from stem,
fibers fray, though the teeth
still menace, drawing bright beads
of blood from my thumb.

Gelsemium sempervirens
Mixed flatwoods along Winnemissett Ave. Climbing up a slash pine.
Coll. 12 Feb. 1887

These vines still try to climb
the page. Only a few bruises
mar the vivid blossoms.
A room papered with jessamine
would overwhelm,
the walls crawling yellow.

Citrus sinensis
Center of Holbrook’s grove on N. Ridgewood Ave.
Coll. 10 Mar. 1887

Here, the collector may observe
both fruit and flower united
in unfulfillment.

Petals splay like bee wings
smashed upon the page, revealing
all those tiny anthers wasted.
No bride would wreathe
these orange-stained blooms
in her hair.

A spoked, red wheel of dried fruit—
no trace of the juice
that ran down my hand
as I sliced into skin.
The flesh blackens,
leaving the bitter rind
to echo on my tongue.  

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