Thursday, July 30, 2009

The pyracantha

As we had planned,
the pyracantha grew and, sprawling,
blocked out the breeze block back wall
of our square suburban home.
So high it stretched,
that it threatened to blot out
the early morning sun itself,
and I suggested, one evening, from the sink,
that it needed its wings clipping.
He disagreed,
child of the blackened chimney,
surveying his new leafdom
like a benevolent dictator.
He loved the wild entanglement of thorn and leaf
that would have made a great nesting place,
had the blue tits only thought harder.
And, he decreed, it stopped the early morning cats
using our back wall as a short cut,
as they swaggered jauntily home
after a night of wild carousing.
Left to its own devices, I argued,
it has lost all shape and purpose.
fine in the Amazon rain forest,
or an abandoned city centre parking lot,
but not here, among the sculpted lawns
and dead-headed roses, that we can see
stretching uniformly from our bedroom window.

One day, after he roared off to work
following another breakfast argument,
I took the shears from the rusting nail
in his shed
and clacked and snapped at the tangled maelstrom,
the thorns raising ugly red wealds on my bare arms,
as I drove the fierce metal
between the resisting briars.
In ten minutes it was all over
and I stood back, panting triumphantly,
as the thorny twigs lay around my feet
like the remnants of my marriage.

The Old English Sheepdog

Lolloping over the old English cobbles,
In bright July sunshine that licks at your face,
The old English sheepdog peers out of his fringe-hair
And smiles a mild greeting of ‘God be with you.’
Past the squat church with the rooks standing sentry
And past the young mums with their children in tow.
Past the red post box and past the newsagents,
Past the o’er-grandiose building society,
The old English sheepdog trots by with contentment
As children excitedly squeal in delight.

Other dogs pass in a light-footed patter,
Smaller, more wizened and fearful of tread.
The old English sheepdog looks down on them properly,
Grunting away through his stiff upper lip.
But here comes a mongrel who will not pull over,
Who will not acknowledge the well-defined law.
The street is a maelstrom of teeth and fur flying,
A belly ripped open ‘twixt resolute fangs.
The sheepdog trots on with an air of self-righteousness.
The mongrel limps off as the cobbles run red.