wednesday word tangle: Love lies Bleeding

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‘Are you the medick?’

‘Well, I’m a doctor, if that’s what you mean.’

‘I rang the surgery twenty minutes ago. Didn’t they tell you, my love lies bleeding?’

‘I came as fast as I could. The traffic’s a nightmare. A lorry shed its load of farm birds- spurge, all over the road. No chance I could speedwell with fat hens and goosefoot everywhere. Puddles of… well, more than one chickweed today, I can tell you. Maybe the crash made them nervous…’

‘Doctor, please, her bleeding heart…’

‘Yes, of course. Lead the way. What’s the patient’s name?’

‘Cicely. Sweet Cicely, I call her. And my name’s William- Sweet William, see? We make a good pair. Just mind that floorboard…’

‘Good, god.’

Wormwood, I think. I need to get a man in.’

‘Bloody woodruff. I could’ve broken my ankle.’

‘Maybe I should have a bugle, or a Canterbury bell to warn people?’

‘I think a sign would be more practical. Interesting décor. Is that a Spanish dagger up on the wall?’

‘That’s right. And that’s a twayblade next to it.’

‘And a throwing Star of Bethlehem. Are they legal?’

‘Not technically, but I know a man…’

‘Right, well. Up here is it?’

‘Yes, through that door, she’s on her ladies bedstraw.’

‘I’d say a mattress was more hygienic, but each to their own. Hello, Cicely. My name’s Dr Robert, Herb Robert . You can call me Herb if you like.’

‘No, that’s not her. That’s Bearded Iris, out neighbour. She was just visiting. Nice to see you, Iris. Close the door on your way out, love.’

Sorrel, my mistake. Now, Cicely, if I can just examine you. I’m afraid you’ll have to remove your monkshood. Oh, and your ladies mantle.’

‘She’d rather not. She’s shy.’

‘Well, I don’t know how I can… Look, I’m sorry, but what is that smell?’

‘Oh, dear. maybe she knapweed. She’s probably dreaming of the wild leeks we had in our camping days, all those torch lit trips to the loo block…’

‘No, she’s knotweed. It doesn’t matter. But I could do with more light… Could you roll up the nightshade, let the sun in?’

‘Err, yeah. Okay.’

‘Now, let’s see. Well, she doesn’t seem to be bleeding. So what’s the problem?’

‘Well, over the last few weeks she’s had mugwort, moonwort, motherwort, navelwort, nipplewort… You name a wart, she’s had it.’

‘She’ll probably selfheal. They’re no reason for a home visit. If I could just see her face, check her eyebright , if she’s feverfew…’

‘No need for that, Dr Robert.’

‘What? What’s that you’re holding.’

‘It’s a shot gun- lock, stock, and barrel.’

‘I don’t understand…’

‘Why don’t you take a closer look. You see, my Sweet Cicely wasn’t always this way. She didn’t always hide in the dark, growing madder by the day with the pain of her condition, avoiding her Venus’ looking glass because she can’t bear to see her beauty ravaged by disease. Long ago she was struck down by an ailment, let’s say it was scabious, or bladderwort. You might have know her as Sweet Alison back then…’

‘Oh, God.’

‘Well, she went to see her GP, a young man, always in a rush, a gallant soldier, ambitious enough to climb the Jacobs ladder of medicine to his own private practice. The doctor barely examined her, sent her away, telling her to give it thyme. He didn’t even notice the ladies tresses falling out of her skullcap, the lungwort growing inside her…’

‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.’

‘Stop weeping! Your angel’s tears won’t help you now.’

‘I have money…’

‘What good are pennyroyals to my girl? I’ll teasel you no longer. The arrowhead‘s beneath your pillow, Cicely. Tare him.’

‘Oh, God…’

Forget me not.’


So, today’s word is a group of words, a history, a lineage of words- common names for wild flowers.

I’ve always loved them. Some names come from Biblical stories or ancient myths, the words often very old- ‘wort’, for example, is not a lump on the skin at all, but is from the Old English ‘wyrt’ which meant herb or plant.

They sound weird, gross, violent or beautiful- and they’re all brilliant.

Here’s the site I found them on, if you fancy a bit of botanical archaeology of your own. British Wild Flowers

All hail Kitty for starting Word for Wednesday.