#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 21 – Something About Leaves

The way they poke up from the ground, peeping moles at first, growing braver every day until all at once, it seems, they spring out full force, declaring, ‘I’m here!’

Sometimes, they arrive swaddled within themselves, and day by day they unwrap a new section – like a long game of pass the parcel with only one piece of wrapping – and the prize is all their delicate veins and bobbles finally getting chance to stretch.

Then we have those that simply step out from another through the thinnest of slits: ‘Door’s open, here I go. Bit of a squeeze, but I can manage…there!’

Pop. One new leaf.

Of course, we mustn’t exclude the coiled fronds which roll open in yo-yo fashion.  Chlorophyll-rich tongues lapping at the sun or arching gently over the moist soil of riverbanks (or that shaded brick wall you’ve ignored forever).

Branches wave and shake, responding to the seasons. In a disco spread across months, this barely perceptible flailing culminates in the arrival of buds that push out green sails, ready to carry the plant on to its next stage.

Blossom!

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. Being autistic, nature is often my only place of solace, and I want to do all I can to protect it. As I’m not very comfortable around other people, most of the standard ways of helping out (volunteering, ‘traditional’ fundraisers etc.) were not a good fit for me, so I came up with #52weeksofnaturepoetry, where I have to post a nature poem here on this blog each week for an entire year without fail.

If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

Poetry

Mandrake

On the surface it holds up clumps of happy green,

and underneath the ground

the roots curl up snug, content and safe from everything.

 

Yet soon people come with spades and forks

to disturb its peaceful slumber

and dig it up without any thought.

 

So the mandrake bawls

when all the soil is brushed away from its face,

wondering why it couldn’t be left alone

for the rest of its days.

 

But the people have heard its bulbous roots

are more than what they seem,

and seek to use it as an ingredient

for all the medicines that they need.

 

So many little mandrakes

have suffered the same fate

that now they have learnt to vanish

from gardens and allotments without a trace.

Poetry

On a spring day

Her name is made of leaves

as she cups the sun in her hands

and turns it into golden liquid, elixir

blood, life.

Her face is of soil, is of water,

drawing, drawing

until her heart turns green, then red

and erupts

for the bees to collect.

Her pieces fill their baskets

and they spread her fingers everywhere.

Sparks for everything she touches.

 

Poetry

Pebbles

The stones are cool against my skin as the tide draws away

to leave them raw. Skitter, the drag comes.

It tries to take me with it, but I am planted firm,

my hair rooting into the shore.

I am solid, I am grounded, breathing a concept

I no longer need. The salt in my tears

from eons of watching sunsets and rises

crystalises into my imprint. I’ll remain for eternity,

even if I join the sand.

Poetry

Self-Examination

You never know what you’ll find when you look inside.

Pull out your innards,

find the glow left behind by faulty wires

and burnt out circuit boards

replaced so many times you can no longer remember

what the original was like.

There may be a spark. A glint.

A cog

needing only slight encouragement

to fit back into the mechanism

and start time again.

 

Poetry

From bones it grows

The night is fading and you can taste morning in the air.

The vague shapes swallowed by the darkness

awaken again as the flowers begin to open.

Not skulking monsters as they sounded, shrieking,

without the light,

but the bones of buildings covered in green carpets,

rich and plush and full of a life that was once

cut back hard, considered a weed,

a pest, a threat to those who hoped to dwell.

Time’s mark is clearer than footprints

and has no patience

for those who refuse to see it.

It grasps them all with tight fingers,

pushing them aside so the first ones

to arrive at the waterhole can have their fill

and flourish

as they should have for all these years.

 

Poetry

Photographs

Moments caught in time,

there for us whenever we want to look back

and see who we were, what we were,

and how far we’ve come.

But what of those past selves of us caught in the frame,

forever in that moment

as the shutter clicked,

marbled into the scene forever more?

 

What if they can see you looking back at them,

wondering how you got so much older,

or when your eyes went from bright and open

to puffed and dark.

Where did that scar come from,

what does that tattoo mean,

and how long have you been wearing that wedding band?

Would they be impressed by you,

or worried at how much life has stamped on your neck

and left you face down in the mud?

Would they wish that they could trade places

and hold hands with your spouse

and hold debates with your friends

or would they seek to bar the window against you forever?

 

Would they recognise you

or are you a stranger

with their face?

Poetry

Images from Fern Gulley

My handprints are leaves decorating the walls. Joining the cave painting that has told our tale for generations. We’ve seen the single seed that holds all the magic of life grow to adulthood, and we’ve sown many more like it. Now I have my own to grow, but the trees without heads are overwhelming. I don’t know what to do. How can one seed work, even awash with the blue light of our people? I watch as you carve your initials into the bark. Can’t you feel its pain?