In shade most of the year, infront of a curving wall
not quite road nor verge at tarmac's edge
a large fuscia bush drops stiff silk particoloured red and blue
flowers each Summer, then yellow leaves in Autumn
which, out of the roadsweeper's reach, rot
and in this scrape of possibility weeds sprout, soon
as sun can breach surrounding roofs and trees
only to be shrivelled on flowering by a man
spraying herbicide from the council. Till last November
when frost came and the road was carpeted
with crispy leaves, before the whirring moustache
of the roadsweeper sucked them up, I went out with a rake
(after noting when not many cars passed, or children
but even so a BMW driver stopped and kindly said through his window
"You don't have to do that, I'll get the council to sort it tomorrow!")
as I scraped them into rustly piles at the side. He didn't wait
for me to explain, drove off, so quickly I carried on scrunching them
into an old washing-up bowl to take home, again, again
till the road was clear. And after a few weeks of rain
when the pile of leaves was a sodden wadge
that couldn't blow away, I forked them back into the bowl,
heavy now, and hefted them over to the place
by the wall. Inches deep but not enough,
so went to the compost bin and hacked out rich brown sludge
of a year's potato peelings, breakfast eggshells,
banana skins from hungry inbetweens, and WORMS
w o r m s!"
Around the edge with a sharp stone I scoured a ditch
wedged in a stegosaurus spine of fallen slates the shapes
of Maths problems - trapeziums, parrallolograms, rhomboids.
Then went inside to look at flowers on the computer, make lists
and lists and lists. Blissful till the cut of final choice
and waiting, in the darkest days till the parcel came
and inside there were little bags, an in them, brown
papery fists holding plans for crocus, muscari, alliums, camassia
that I'd never had anywhere to grow before.
The first afternoon it didn't rain I poked holes in the (almost) mulch,
staying out till streetlight was embarrassing. My neighbour,
smiling, one day, offered me a paper bag of bulblets grown
from his own that his son had sent from America. I put them
where I thought would be sunniest. And waited
as the days grew lighter, for green noses to nudge up. He laughed
at my impatience. Then, it began! Crocuses. Higher, higher, buds
bigger, bigger, burst - Stained glass purple! Eggyolk yellow! HUGE!
Also the magical suprise of dainty cream crocuses
and bright narcissus, from my neighbour's gift.
One day I went out at lunchtime and they were all full of sun
but there were no bumblebees. It was too cold, or maybe
they didn't know. Do bees dream? I waited. Spikes of green
muscari, buds swelled, split, BLUE intense, warm, glowing
but no bumblees. Then one day, walking back from shopping,
there was one! Clinging onto a muscari flower. How far
had it come? Finnicky as a jeweller, picking its way
from scented blue opening to opening itmoved on
to another flower. Following days there was another
(or the same bee came for a second go) But only ever one.
I was worried about the council man coming to spray
till one day my neighbour told me he saw him with the sprayer, looking
at the flowerbed, said "Don't!" and they were saved!
As the muscari went over, other leaves grew - which were camassia,
which alliums? I didn't know. Then one opened, blue! And soon
there was a bumblebee again. Then there were two!
Till last week allium sicculum shucked their whispy sheaths
and stripey pink and creamy bells made sheltering hollows
for a huge bumblebee. Yesterday there were two. Today three!
My son said "Why are you so happy, for such a small thing?"
but perhaps happiness, like size, is a point of view?
I can't fix climae change, or habitat loss, but this place
where we made earth useless, now, Life can be
I think this evening there was a queen tree bumblebee a carder bee and two buff tailed bumblebess, but I could be wrong, as not sure tree bumblebees are here. Also 2 hoverflies
tanka 30th June "Beginnings and Endings" (IP)
bright silken bells and
petal platforms shiver with
ecstacy of bees;
watering in Summer dusk
seeds planted when Earth was still