This poem was written in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) where there is a display on Dr Schunk and other eminent Victorian dye chemists. Good stuff. The poem was first published in Iota.
Before you read it, or after - go and sign the petition to save the museum here http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/science-museum-group-save-the-museum-of-science-and-industry-mosi
In the textile gallery
Some of the substances contained in lichen
make bright dye; brush past a lily’s stamen
and your shirt is streaked with red and orange
showing against nap or strong pattern.
In Schunk’s laboratory, flowers grew on desks,
grasses twisted in the many-drawered chests
and, one corner set aside, the place for cotton.
Each strand dropped in a vial specked with forgotten
leaves, stalks, shellfish, reeds and rock
that he hauled back into a finely written log.
Colours the clothmen fought to use in their design
resplendent in granny’s cover for chaise longue
and pelmet. Fabrics that still give me a pang
stretched in ranks of glass case and machine.
© Bridget Khursheed