A poem about a sunflower grower with a farm shop near Cambridge. Hope this grounds this ethereal poem. ‘Sunflowers’ was first published in Scintilla in 2006, and appears in Fenlight, a CD of poems and songs.


How he came to love them, he is not sure:
deep brown pools of seed, a tiger’s eye.

All the words for yellow are never quite enough:
cinnamon, saffron, daffodil does not name them,
too faint and moon-close for their practicality.

Bronze comes closest, forged out of dust and clay,
carved into decades, surviving desert storms.
Or gold a true colour, with its own alchemy to make

the heart of daisies, the casing of wasps, the thick
sugar melt of honey, firecracker, a Catherine wheel.
Their heads as high as his shoulders when he walks the rows.

Their deep amber eyes keep him in acres.
The strangeness of miles of them, Latin named,
somewhere shimmering seen from a passing train.

Like a memory of plains where he might have been
a painter, walking barefoot through stubble fields.
Now he’s a merchant of the sun,

servant to all those who reach for it.
His harvest horses, the blonde colour of his
children’s hair, flower seller to city dwellers so

summer can take them, across heavy furrows,
into the frames of fields.
Their coins in return for light woven petals:

Picasso-parasol, topaz-ring, straw-matted circle,
canary, butter, parchment, pods.

For more of Clare’s readings, see Poem Readings. And you can also find Clare’s readings of her poems for the Waterlight Project at that project’s site.

All poems © Estate of Clare Crossman