Marianne North transports the tropics to Kew

She packs the globe in a wooden box,
ships it to London, shrinking
each place she visits
to the space between her hands
then draws them apart like a conjuror

nectaring sunbirds out of sable hair,
butterfly scales from brushstrokes –
blooming her cacti on walls of sand,
their petals braceleted
in spines she can still feel

stinging her palm. She takes aim, fires
passion flowers onto bricks,
the cochineal climbing stone trees
towards sunlight.
She builds a bridge from India to Chile

over an ocean solidified to wood,
ushers in people
wearing winter coats. Moth orchids
moonshine their way across the sea
as they step in city shoes

from forest to forest, hummingbirds
dripping from the branches.
Look, she says, enchanting the cactus flower
she saw wilt in a day, blooms it
across the wall for a century.



Fiona Sanderson Cartwright is a poet and conservation scientist living near London. Her poetry has previously appeared in various magazines, including Magma, Mslexia, Butcher’s Dog and Ink Sweat & Tears. She tweets @sciencegirl73