But just as wildflowers grow lushly in small rural cemeteries, so too the well-adapted wildflowers of Texas have rallied without rain. Roadsides are dense with them, especially Coreopsis lanceolata, as though defying the heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 100 in the day and not dropping below 80 degrees overnight. The rallying flowers remind me of Michael Longley’s “The Ice-Cream Man” (Gorse Fires, 1991):
“Rum and raisin, vanilla, butter-scotch, walnut, peach:
You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before
They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road
And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop.
I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren
I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife,
Meadowsweet, tway blade, crowfoot, ling, angelica,
Herb robert, marjoram, cow parsley, sundew, vetch,
Mountain avens, wood sage, ragged robin, stitchwort,
Yarrow, lady’s bedstraw, bindweed, bog pimpernel.”
Longley wrote the poem for his daughter in the nineteen-eighties after the sectarian murder of an ice-cream man in Belfast. Just as Sarah lays carnations outside the dead man's shop, Longley brings an offering not of flowers but of their names, a poetic gift. The Burren is the karst limestone region in County Clare, renowned for wildflowers and butterflies. It may be worth noting that many of Longley’s flowers are relied on by practitioners of herbal medicine. They heal.