27 October 2023 — Writing

Abundant Nectar

by Harper Walton

A close-up photograph of artwork in the exhibition that is made out of golden yellow material and thread.
A close-up of the work by Raghnaid Sandilands in the Loch Ness section of A Fragile Correspondence. Photo by Alyesha Choudhury.

After an Open Call asking artists and writers for a creative promotional response to the themes of A Fragile Correspondence, Harper Walton was commissioned to write the below poem, which explores the geographically distinct areas of Highland, Island and Lowland as queer spaces through a transgender and non-binary lens.


Abundant Nectar

By Harper Walton


1.   Lowland


I am a changeling in the place of a healthy child

swapped at birth by primrose-fearing faeries


I was born under a flower moon, almost full

my parents buried the placenta that nourished me

planting a copper hazel on top

so it could be nourished as well


my parents, the parish councillors

enshrining climate strategy documents

to preserve grassy verges with their blue hearts


my father, the timber framer, the axe salesman

treading lightly on the planet

with small pad foundations

I love him

and his embodied carbon


my mother, the artist, the gardener

I love her

by germinating


my ancestors were Norman colonisers

channel islanders, Celtic fringe anonymities

cockney labourers in tanning factories, soaking hides

in vats of tree bark-derived acid or chromium salts

dehairing, degreasing, irreversibly altering

the protein structures of skin


my forefathers forged munitions

made glass bottles and umbrellas

bound books, kept cows, drove cabs


and me?

my body is also an odoriferous trade


as a child I played

in the beech woods

that occupied an abandoned quarry

whose limestone built the house that raised me


now I’m a peasants’ revolt

a levelling, a threshing machine

with a conscience


my body is an arable croft

a scrumped apple

a criminalised squat

a car park tarmacked onto marshland


I’m the light of the full moon reflected

by reams of hawthorn hedgerow

all blossoming white at once


I’m abundant nectar

and the midnight moth

it lures for pollination



2.   Highland


my parents were first married in a pagan ceremony

on a mountainside of gorse and bracken

unofficially officiated by three monks in striped dresses

who split time between a Gospel Oak commune

and a cottage in the Llŷn peninsula

named Y Graig, or The Rock in Cymraeg


these visionaries knit their own shoes

and understood expression and perception elementally

creating new lexicons for gendered energies

that live differently in us all


you can be dard or voy, or a mixture of the two

and I’m not going to tell you which is which


because I long for the right to roam the land

and take stewardship of my body

but my identity is an enclosure

cordoned off by fascistic topiary

and sold back to me for a profit


the animal kingdom is full of hermaphrodites

obligate or sequential

and no one bats an eyelid


many flowers have both

stigmas and stamens

but humans made a thing of me


maybe I’m a hardy annual

a cabbage white, a disgruntled shrew

a dog-violet, not a pansy



3.   Island


my body is an archipelago

in a world without boats

a misread neap tide, receding


if no man is an island

what does that make me?


I’m not Vitruvian or Modulor

a range of harmonious measurements

universally applicable[1]


gender is a common treasury

deserving equally divided fruit


people exist who see themselves

more as sea spirits or wood nymphs

than men or women

these are my siblings

and partners in crime


in nature nothing knows I’m trans

for me, no man’s land is another name for utopia


I don’t feel at home in my body

but who says a body has to be a home?

maybe my body is an allotment

never owned, but fruitful


if architecture is an archive of gender[2]

maybe nature is as well

like how I feel the same love towards

the ocean as when I was a child

except now it loves me back


I don’t know what trans architecture looks like

or what that even means

I just want a peaceful place to piss

and a bed to rest my bones


if a trans person falls over in the woods

and nobody’s there to laugh

does that make it a trans space?


maybe this is oversimplistic

but I think spaces become trans

when trans people exist in them

(even if those around us

are actively willing us to leave)


poorly lit underpasses are not

inherently violent or transphobic spaces

until people arrive


people who don’t understand

that my gender is a solar panel

sitting in the shade of a wind turbine


let me ask you this

if Mother Nature was a trans woman

would you still want to protect her?


[1] Le Corbusier, 1948.
[2] Crawford, Lucas Cassidy (2010) “Breaking Ground on a Theory of Transgender Architecture,” Seattle Journal for Social Justice: Vol. 8: Iss. 2, Article 5.