Plants That Are Not Lavender, or, Other Names For Lavender

C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

Plants That Are Not Lavender, or, Other Names For Lavender

By: Julia DaSilva


1. Lavender-cotton:

(unrelated to either, but for

the grey-green leaves)

yellow flowers, for contrast, useless

for weaving and though evergreen,

tending not to live long, being

as it is,

ground cover;


2. Cast-me-down:

not ground cover, despite the name—

a popular corruption

of another name for an herb

trying to hold up too many meanings,

too many dried petals baked into bread

(yes, lavender)


3. Stickadove:

cast-me-down, perennial;

once cultivated as medicine until

its spiked flowers left scratches on

birds who want only to be left

in peace (why

do they join you in your garden?)


4. Butter-root:

lavender giving in to imposed fears

the perfect carnivorous flower, as though growing to serve

a voyeur’s fantasy,

often violet (sometimes moon-blanched),

suffused with a mismatched

assortment of yellow, green, red

like the ill-fitting sweaters that announce

this root (quote) “obsolete”

(the name?

the wilting in what can only be your

carnivorous tendencies,

carnivorous desires?

the ill-matched flowers

themselves?)


5. Prattling parnel,

whose names babble like masses of

pink rosettes in the

unfavourable cracks between categorical warehouses,

loose woman-priest’s mistress-effeminate:

London pride (for shady conditions)

St. Patrick’s cabbage (for feeding the ground

cover that turned fae

into snakes)

whimsy (for its refusal)

“look up and kiss me” (look down

and kiss me)


6. Man’s blood:

a thistle, for which

you might cast about in vague anger;


7. Scorpion grass:

another name for forget-me-not,

which is another name for

the pale purple herb (for which you need other names)

morphed from soft sweetheart trinkets to

stinging fields of

might-have-been;


8. Sicklewort:

that self-heals its scarlet wounds,

harvests the lessons and moves on,

to new forget-me-not cast-me-down springs;


9. The will-of-the-wisp

that the soil growing honest plants in

daylight exhales into the night,

when romantic realism

(a slip, perhaps, for

semantic realism)

can no longer be held in—

waiting for those ready

to be led astray.

It’s not a plant, unlike


10. Nepenthe:

also an herb, an imagined

remedy for sorrow—

as much lavender

as any other fiction

or evaporating ghost.




Julia DaSilva’s poetry has appeared in Eclectica, Rat’s Ass Review, Lychee Rind Zine, the Toronto-based Young Voices magazine, the University of Toronto journals The Spectatorial, The Strand, and Hardwire, as well as an upcoming issue of Storm of Blue Press Magazine. She is a guest in Tkaronto/Toronto on Dish With One Spoon territory, and writes fantasy as well as poetry, with a novel and a collection of short stories in progress and a particular interest in the politics of magic systems. Her writing is heavily informed by her work in climate justice organizing, and explores questions of political responsibility and queerness, embodiment, love and hope in worlds coming apart and being rebuilt.


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