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Special N.04 – The Herbarium Tales


by Felicity Plunkett

To lie among flames, to come through fire
in the shape of a star – (o hope) –  

feathery. To push pink past char, woolly
across heath and open forest, clumping

to blush, jump bruised blue eucalypt 
-hazed mountains lying grazed – (o hope) – 

To be given a man’s name – forsythii – not to be
named, to be nameless, to know

what it is to be spoken over, spoken 
of, pressed. To open underground – (o hope) – 

To come back – hailed by lyre, by whip – from
catastrophe – after the flicked

cigarette, flash of hand and stripe of dry
lightning. To follow the drowning – (o hope) –   

carrying colour like a blanket. To labour in fire
‘furnished with rays’ – actinotus – homeless. To go

across razed borders under a burgeoning
enemy’s thunder, after everything 

To offer an artillery of fluffy seeds to breeze, open
velvety bracts high above cousins coasting 

silver. To hold dew-nectar morning bright, to soothe
the wounded. To be wounded, to lie under disaster

– (o hope) –  To make something anyway. To turn 
from your moribund cradle into roseate light, into air – 

                                                                                               – (o hope) –  
This Actinotus forsythii specimen was collected in 2014 in Wiradjuri country. It grew among sandstone crevices in skeletal sandy soil, ranging between black loam and yellow/white sand.

Herbarium specimen images were provided by The National Herbarium of New South Wales.

Talara’tingi is the D’harawal name for the flannel flower. The pink flannel flower grows, rarely, on Dharug and Gundungurra country, only after bushfire and deluge. I acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional and ongoing custodians of these lands and those of the land on which I wrote this poem, the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation, and to Elders past, present and emerging, in a spirit of hope.

Published: November 2022
Felicity Plunkett

is an award-winning poet and critic. Her first collection Vanishing Point (UQP, 2009) won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and was shortlisted for several other awards. She is the author of Seastrands (2011), a chapbook in Vagabond Press’ Rare Objects series and A Kinder Sea (UQP, 2020). Felicity was Poetry Editor with University of Queensland Press and edited the anthology Thirty Australian Poets (UQP, 2011). She has a PhD from the University of Sydney and is a regular reviewer and essayist. Her latest essay is ‘Plath Traps’, published by Sydney Review of Books.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.