Kevin Bennett: ‘My Vegetative Love’

My Vegetative Love

Amaranthus mignonette cyclamen
The raised worn elbow of her cardigan
Nemophila clematis primula
A tensing of her brow with eyes aside
Cross-referencing to some thought or other
Centaurea nasturtium impatiens
I might’ve been tempted to prune the subject
(As I only know the meaning of mulch)
But her voice turned everything interesting
And her eyes were an open-book exam
And her poor, pale, left earlobe seemed to plead
For its secretly missing wobbling pearl
Pieris gardenia lunaria
And succulents still with clinging dewdrops.
When she’d finished, we both went back, along
The winding green-about-the-gills brick path
With mixed rotting-brown and freshly dropped blooms
And past hedges delicately red-tipped …
It’s not just something one can clip on, but
A presence whose mere presence is pleasure,
Interplay of fingernails and petals,
A spiralling inflation of the senses.
Can I say feminine and not be lynched?

I pace the pattern round my Persian rug
And circle the lime tree for fallen fruit
And puzzle over the treasure island
Map of each flat-out geranium leaf.
Leaning from the shower, I gouge a hair
From the soap in a bulldozed blob of white.
A flustered but instinctive choice so soon
Grows into inevitability.
Contemplating the dropped petals of time,
I’m less content now simply to observe
My daily turnover of reeking shirts
And rinsing whiskers off white porcelain.
I could write a thesis on her brown hair,
But first I need to dry between my toes.
Maybe it’s self-delusion again; I’m
Just one sprig from out on the council strip.

Having studied the fine print of my clippings,
The magpie, like an impish parish priest,
Sits on the fence and warbles no advice.
So, should I take his silence as assent? …
Then common sense scuds in like a magpie.
The bed is weeded, watered and wormy
And the last red clouds are like fingers cupped
Over a torch. Time to get back to my
Encyclopedia of Flowering Plants
And Longman’s Latin (rediscovered high
On the dustiest shelf). Cresce lente
To know her as a vine knows its pergola.

Kevin Bennett

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