Is any insect brave enough
To pollinate the venus-flower,
Tempted never by the lure
Of nectar, rich upon the leaves ?
Is any insect sure enough
To find that small-white-petalled tower
Standing tall above those mauls
That punish tardy, wayward thieves ?
Is any insect smart enough
To find the pollen in the bower,
And to fly away again
And not be caged within those sheathes ?
Throat-wort over here and five-tongue over there,
Clinging to the brickwork,
When other weeds won’t dare.
Any scrap of dirt will do,
Waiting till the bulbs are through –
And suddenly, they’re ev’rywhere,
Ready with their reddy-blue.
Butterflies this side, bumblebees the other,
Ferrying the love-notes,
Each bloom to its lover.
And then the scatter-seeds will blow,
And where they land, so there they grow,
As next Spring will uncover,
By sprouting mauve and indigo.
Throat-wort is an old name for campanula (aka bellflower, but I always think of bellflowers as larger and grander). Five-tongue is a literal translation of Pentaglottis, the genus name of green alaknet. The truth is, I needed two-syllable names for both of them.
You gave me plugs for planting
In the ground beneath my plum –
A lover’s gift for growing,
And for shooing Winter glum.
Such blue and tiny flowers
In a little straggly scrum –
Just bed them in and off they go,
With any-colour thumb.
Yet year-on-year, these self-seed parts
Make up a spreading sum –
These almost-weeds, not worth the dig,
Are no chrysanthemum !
You gave me some forget-me-nots –
And later called me scum.
I’ve tried so hard to wipe the slate –
Yet ev’ry Spring, they come.
This poem was inspired by one by Dino Mahoney – I basically took his idea and added rhymes.
Some of them are white, of course,
Though all are pink round here.
They’re not the most impressive trees
Till all the blooms appear.
They blow their show in April,
All before their leaves take root –
Yet all of this confetti
Makes such neat and waxy fruit.
The plant you gave so lovingly
Is dying on my windowsill.
I swear it’s not a metaphor,
It’s just a drooping hellebore.
I tend the plant so lovingly,
And steadily it goes downhill.
I swear its thrips and fungal pus
Are meaningless in terms of us.
This poor maltreated gift you chose,
This sacrificial Lenten rose,
Is no barometer of woes
That gnarls and twists and guilts.
It’s just a plant in dying throes
That cannot blame or presuppose.
The only thing this flower shows
Is soil that’s poor in silts.
I swear our love still blooms and grows,
As surely as this other wilts.
Whatever the bards or historians say,
It’s not the pot-plant of Dorian Gray.
My poor, befuddled Easter cactus:
Sometimes early, sometimes late,
But never can it bloom in practice
On the actual Easter date.
We set a day for April Fools,
We set a day to change our clocks
But Easter follows loony rules:
The first full moon from Equinox.
Early April’s worth a shout,
I reckon, for a stable day:
It’s warm enough for going out,
And far enough from busy May.
But all this shifty, ancient mess
With sense as empty as the tomb,
Is why my cactus cannot guess
The week in which to bloom.
Snowdrops, pale and shy and still,
As if they’re afraid to face the bracing breeze.
Downcast propellers, silent in the chill,
So loathe to disturb the hush beneath the trees.
Always huddled together in their crowds
With the neck of a swan and the wimple of a nun;
Tensed to bare the worst from the clouds,
And wilting away in the first warmth of the sun.