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.
“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”
Matthew, chapter 27, verses 51-53
And the very earth shook beneath us,
And the sky came dark and the veil of the temple was rent;
As the Son at last came to leave us,
So the tombs where slept the saints were breached as He went.
And there they sat, arisen yet still,
Since so long dead, they patiently waited
For a night and a day and a night until
On Sunday morn, they arrived belated. Zombies on the loose, they come !
Zombies in Jerusalum !
And yet not a word was spoken,
As He was interred by Joseph of Arimathea,
Of other tombs that were broken –
For surely he witnessed the quaking’s rough aftermath here ?
For there they sat, arisen yet still,
Awaiting the one who had yet to be buried;
So lay Him within the sepulchre’s chill
And roll up the stone, his soul long ferried. Zombies yet procrastinate, Zombies lurk and zombies wait.
And still not a word was spoken
By the Marys on Sunday making their way to His tomb,
As they passed all the saints newly woken,
As another earth-tremor gave sanction to auto-exhume.
No more they sat – unprisoned, unstill:
Now great was their stagg’ring and groaning as any;
As stumbling and jerking, they lurched down the hill
To Jerusalem, to the marvel of many. Zombies, rotten of complexion !
Zombies join the Resurrection !
And never more a word was spoken
By the Twelve at the Pentecost, only a few weeks on –
When their voices were no longer choken,
But gabbled in tongues – yet not asking where the dead had all gone.
Where now they sat ? Or risen they still ?
Where went their mission, so silent of news ?
What is the purpose they mean to fulfil ?
Is this what is meant by Wandering Jews ? Zombies, born again through Christ !
Zombies, torn from Paradise !
And still not a word is spoken,
And the puzzling verse is never read out in church.
No statue or stained glass token
Celebrate animate saints as they stumble and lurch.
And those who are sit in the pews quite still
And pretend that the verse is a metaphor or test –
I guess they haven’t the need or the will
To admit to themselves that it might be a jest. Zombies, clinging to their mask,
Zombies, too afraid to ask.
Jesus ? My word ! Oh my lord, it’s the boss…
I never expected to see you today –
Except perhaps hanging out up on your cross…
It’s funny, but when as a kid we would pray,
And Reverend Thomas instructed our eyes
To always be tight and respectfully shut,
I’d sneak them half-open and squint at your thighs,
Expecting you’d come down a moment and strut.
With no-one to see, would you take up the chance
To get down to stretch, and to smoke, and to dance ?
The words of the prayer were quite lost to my trance,
But you never showed even the hint you’re alive.
You hung just the same when we sipped on your blood,
And you looked down as glum when we learned of the Flood,
And seemed as remote when our prayer-books would thud,
And we mumbled or massacred hymn forty-five.
But anyway, never mind my reminiscence,
How long must it be since you came round my way ?
Somehow you faded in slow evanescence,
Your black and white certainties merging to grey.
And Reverend Thomas was no help explaining
The problem of evil or problem of gays,
Till finally, even my lifelong ingraining
Could not keep the wonder or stem the malaise.
But reading the papers, there’s plenty of good news –
From leprosy vaccines to movies and blues,
And juries and voting, and self-tapping screws –
Abandoned, alone, we learned how to be great.
I waited and waited back there in your church
For some word or some action to come from your perch,
But unheard my questions, and unseen my search.
Till now, when I find you, I find you too late.
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.