Border Control (Poetry Monthly)
I’ve given up on border control,
the making and remaking of beds,
there’s pleasure in surrender
to the slow creep over and under the hedge.
A tangle of stems and leaves
fight it out at the edge,
they drip strange poison, strangle with barbs
in that dark seeping manner of plants.
A rotting mass writhes
in wormy earthy renewal
where globs of succulents
reproduce in sticky quantities
to be snuffled and gobbled by that sometime
careless wanderer of the edges
bright-berry-eyed prickle-backed forager
itinerant one-night garden chancer
watcher of other secret mammals who slip safely over the road
past the crow-pecked, feather and fur remains,
reminders that those made of bone and blood and dreams
are not as tenacious to life as these who cast their seed
across tame suburbia to bring back the ancient legends
of how weeds gifted humans -
like devil’s nettle yarrow, which stemmed the flow of blood
from Achilles’ wounds - he lived to fight another day.
For lesser mortals ground elder eases old joints,
chickweed cools the heat of infection,
vetch and violets touch the dark with scented colours of silken nights,
while dandelion and burdock wake up childhood days of summer blue and green.
I’ve given up on border control as
couch grass feeds the speckled wood butterfly,
Jack-by-the-hedge is poor man’s mustard and
clover, thistle, dock, willowherb, moss…all the wild things
feed my soul.