Grasscloth 1


Two-weight brocatelle. Historic plaited gold.
A wide-looming lea. A no seamed sea.
Raised, ribbed, leaf-sheathed and spikeletted.
Handloomed broad-glumed brome.
Yards and yards of yellow and yellow.







Grasscloth 2 (Millefleur)



Not half-palmettes. Not merely
ornamental scrolling foliage
(not bifurcated, not interlaced).

Flatlands of irregularity.
Scroll. Littlescroll. Trail-patterning Flora.
Swallowwort-small swallows of cross-twig;
the hand-loomed jacquard pattern book.



Glumes—hispidulous, awned, long. Unwieldy
the thousand-flowered dye book. Wild bluebell,
bellwort, bugleweed, the ecclesiastical ding-

dong, the chime, the chintz of Sistine and Trinitas,
woven silk and cotton, poppy linen.

Under the block-printed willow bough.
Where hawthorn and hyssop collide.
A back-lit haute-lisse crashes the colourway.



Note: Scroll, Littlescroll, etc., in italics, are names of William Morris textiles.







de Materia Medica  (excerpts)



The Original Dedication—

Of Acids.
Of Acrids.
Of Insipid Earths.

Of Astringents.
Of Aromatics.
Of Bitters. Of Sweets.

Of Emetics and Cathartics.
Of Unctuous Substances.
The Leaves and The Tops.
The Virtues and The Roots.





Morbid the remedial florilegia—

By the dog the minced oaths,
the god-wounds, the solemnly
declared chronical maladies.
The bloody blankety blank . . .





So blooms—

Some small vulgarity.
The bad-rhyming carrion.

These unpoetical Asclepiads.
(Unmetrically unsucculent.)

The open wound-stenched.
The rot-ponged.
The rodenty.





’struth the killing dead weight.
’struth the cruelty in the extreme.

The great pains not taken—God’s truth
love-in-idleness cross the heartsease!
The three-colored, the three-faced inflamed.





A vial of Viola tricolor

Saturnine with Hawkweed and Horsetail.
Wild-thoughted summer and spring.
Cull me. Cuddle me. Call-me-to-you.
Pink-o’-the-Eye. Banewort. Constancy.


Orchard-bruised and unimpeachable.
Lungs clingy, windblown, heavy-huffed
with wild pansy, prussic, muzzily trussed.


Swig the cordial, the unpeachy lovelorn,
the falling-in falling-down sickness potion.
Lolly the asthmatic, the untamed wheezy





Pick me—

Peals the self-serving physic garden.
Gold-leafed in leaps and zounds
burgeons the marginalia,
the gleaming illuminations.

Premorbid and full-of-promise
these plant-stranded pages. O cruets
of ignorance. O cruets of bless
this body being pleasingly invested.

The balmy-sweet, the balsamy-
impulsive medicaments. The kiss-
sting of molasses consistency
(syrup-bitter hints iron not irony).




Note: The title ‘de Materia Medica’ refers to the 5-volume pharmacopeia compiled in 1st-Century AD by Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides.




The poems here are from Garden Physic, a work-in-progress.

Artwork © Biodiversity Heritage Library

Kamila Shamsie In Conversation