12 May 2021

#RhymeYourResearch: Memory of a Flower

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#RhymeYourResearch is a series of posts by poets who write poetry about science and explain their process and inspiration while also showcasing their pieces. Learn more about contributing. This week, Angie Lo. 

Bee and flower. Credit: Angie Lo

I’m Angie Lo, an undergraduate studying both English and Physiology. Though I’ve been reading and writing verses since childhood, I got into science-themed poetry during university, where I read Margaret Cavendish’s poems on atoms. I was struck by the brilliance and seamlessness by which Cavendish wove together science and the literary arts, and the way her words helped me see the scientific world in a new, more wondrous light. Since then, I have read —and greatly enjoyed— numerous other science poems, and have also written several of my own.

“Memory of a Flower” was inspired by an article I read about the learning flights that honey- and bumblebees take after encountering a nectar-rich flower. These flights involve the bees repeatedly turning and facing towards the flower as they depart from it, studying its characteristics. During this time, the bees will commit both the flower’s appearance and its location to memory, allowing them to readily return to it during their next foraging trip. I found something strikingly beautiful about this phenomenon, of trying to capture a small yet valuable snapshot of nature in the mind. I wanted to convey some of this beauty through a written work, and so “Memory of a Flower” came to be. In this poem, I tried to capture the sense of intimacy and gentleness invoked by the natural phenomenon, directly addressing the bee to invite the reader into this closeness as well. I also used the traditional rhyming sonnet form to reflect the process’ soft, musical rhythms— both that of the bee’s humming flight and its repeated turning back.

Angie Lo is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, currently majoring in Physiology and English. When not writing or studying, she can be found drawing cartoons, reading poetry, or cracking her tenth corny science pun of the day. 

Memory of a Flower

By Angie Lo

Though you have much to carry, much to need,

It matters not– here you may drink your fill;

The bloom is kind. A nectar ripe and sweet

Bids you to rest, to gather. All is still–

And when you make your flight to thence depart,

You cannot help but stop, and turn. For there

Is time for silent watching. Every part

You note: the gracious petals’ hue, and where

It lies, as though a beacon. All imbues

Your thankful mind. The memory settles in

Like full and quiet drops of early dew

That lie as crystal in the calming wind.

And when the bloom spreads wide in day renewed,

You there return on wings of gratitude.