Lavender Bush

How you could snap
under the salt of these harsh seasons,
so near that you’ve wrapped yourself tight within
your softest colours,
and wear your consternation like old world dignity.

And we see in your hurt shrinking
from these sudden thrusts of foreign air,
that you expected to bloom in
the warmer hues of that land of baths and frescoes,

and its wandering troupes
who sang the birth of language
as they passed your dipping purples and translucent greens
that not even the sun could cast shadows upon.

Do you remember your weightless dreams
planted along those chalk white roads
that meandered from monastery to monastery
in the deep wine of endless afternoon?

But now, this antipodal sky,
harassed by its own southern sea,
sows its wild blooms, burnt too close by the wind,
all about you,
the bright laughter of unfamiliar flowers.

And your fragile strength, despite yourself,
like the quiet urgency of a refugee,
feeling your way through the crowds of unwritten faces,
to take a seat in their midst, half unsure, half fleeing,
yet utterly sensitive to the tingling newness,
the touch of a world that is yet to name you.

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Finally out of the tangle,
the stubborn undergrowth,
the dripping sky
that descended like subterfuge,
his gentle field,
laid out like a picnic,
emerged.

The forest still
reared its cold, damp mane
at his approach,
but there was something now
he had as reply.
And from the larder,
the woman,

who was no longer
young and gentle,
ferried the raw materials
he tore with calloused thumbs
from the earth
into jars, into cupboards,

sweetening, smoothing,
caramelizing the savage man
that the land was
daily tearing from him,
as if he were his fraying shirt.

She too was part of
his quarrel with the bush.
With her he’d teach it
to part its hair,
to accept the fields,
to accept the basin and the soap,
and above all the harvest.

And the forest reconciled herself
with this man,
for their treaty was neither
wholly hers or the invader’s.

And they were,
in their own ways,
immovable forces, bearing down,
hewing the other
into transformation.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014