‘Can You Describe This?’
Take this down. Your future is a clutch of wonky ruins –
tigers prowl through high grasses in Tiananmen Square,
the Eiffel Tower’s scar-coloured now, clotted with nests,
and speckled deer falter down Fifth Avenue. Every dam’s
fallen to silt and spilt – dolphins swish past chandeliers –
and farmland, loosed from man’s shoulder, is feral
with plumed thistle, mustard, lupine, flowering rape.
Guano plasters the Sistine Chapel. Libraries burn.
You imagine this beautiful, I know. Nearly want it.
But beauty’s gone: wolves sniff Rodin’s The Kiss,
gnaw it and leave. Love was your own disease,
and died, as head-lice died, along with you.
This is not justice. Lone and level sands don’t mock.
There is only the boundless indifference you failed to see
when you were here to see, recording angels.
The Language of Flowers, or The Primrose
You know so many words for shoe -
know mules from brogues,
your ballet-slippers, sandals, platforms,
wedges, flip-flops, kitten-heels
and mary-janes and slingbacks and the Ugg.
Once you pressed flowers, so learnt their names -
wrote them by bowed and jaundiced heads -
but then the siren-song of cities cooed from your TV
and you preferred that Esperanto of want and need:
Selfridges, mojitos, latte, weed,
hoodies and nightbus,
Noho, lido and burlesque show…
and now the names are lost,
and now you need those blossoms back.
Without the right words, you can’t think clearly.
Whoever cared for what’s nameless?
You must learn what the Stinking Iris is,
the Harebell, Angel Bonnet, Mother-die;
that Populus Tremula means trembling Poplar;
means the Aspen whispering to us
– listen -
through leaves like teeth, chattering with fear.
The thing I fear most is diminishment,
the shutting down of possibility.
Last night I was greedy for what could still be:
I want go to Rio, I slurred. I wanna keep chickens! Try mescaline!
But tender mornings are about small things:
light tortoise-shelling the flat, a sip of juice, a DVD.
I’ve a fat stack of weekend papers
and my husband is whistling Spanish Flea.
On the windowsill, geraniums pulse.
They are sunsets on stalks, grenadine and coral.
I failed to water them. Fallen petals
are saying: you must love this.