search instagram arrow-down

Recent Posts


Top Posts & Pages


The winter bowed out through a luke-warm week

And now the deal is sealed with this spring snow,

Cold only in the way fluff cloaked the creek

In that Kentucky canyon years ago:

A lavish swansdown stole, but there below

Melt-water burbled while guitars rang clean

As banjos, sugar-sweet or fighting mean.

It must be thirty years since I was there,

Breathing that music while men tapped their feet

On a floor that shook. I learned what women wear

In heaven, saw their skirts swirl on the beat,

The skip of strappy shoes. My, they looked neat.

I ask you, did those girls not burn as bright

As sprigs of dogwood brought in from the night?

The dogwood was in bloom and still won’t die

In my mind, which looks back along a blaze

Of mirrors like that great hall in Versailles.

Most of the permanence in these last days

Of my life, of an orbit that decays,

Is merely memory, but still holds fast

Precisely for its roots in the far past.

Here in my garden the camellias

Blossomed too recently to be evoked

Save with an effort. They are gone like stars

Into the early dawn. Each bloom was stoked

With pink brushed silk. They simpered as if stroked

With pride at being lovely. Then the day

Arrived when somehow they had gone away.

High time to cherish my long memories

Of frangipani next to our back door

At home. My mother briskly waved the bees

Aside to clip the flowers. After the war

Each year our little cross was propped before

The granite obelisk up on the hill

As if our tortured Lord were wept for still.

He was, he was, but tears had turned to blooms:

White blooms with starry hearts of molten gold.

Back at our house our cool dark dining-room’s

Oak sideboard, prized because it looked so old,

Held its own bowl of petals whose each fold

Dripped wealth to mark the time of his return,

Which would be never. Would they never learn?

All flowers are water-clocks. They tell the time.

Only the first we see are always there.

When I was small the death-defying climb

Of honeysuckle up into clear air

Tempted my mouth. I taste it now. I share

Those aspirations. Give me the sweet sky

To hunger for as I prepare to die,

And I, too, might be led to make a show

Of striving heavenward. A pigeon’s beak

That punches tiny holes in the fresh snow

Has no more strength, but though I grow so weak

I can no longer see, the flowers will speak

Their language, which is time made visible.

It thrilled me from the start. It thrills me still.

Printed in New Statesman, 2 August 2019 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls






Paris Website

Animal Website

Flower Website


Leave a Reply
%d bloggers like this: