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The damson plum: prunus domestica
In quiet hedgerows, down aimless village lanes,
clingstones, their origin, till now, in doubt,
post-rationing neglected on the bough,
hang down in droves, to drop, like severed heads,
decay. Giant sloes, their genes unbound, ink flicks
from hapless pens, blunt arrowheads, egg-shaped
lead weights, these flawless jewels against the green,
slate blue to deepest indigo, tear drupes,
hint of the orient, sweet damascene.
Though flawless raw – in Syria, one dry
sour note round here’s pure gall. First fuse of firm
lime flesh, cheeks wither in surprise. Appalled,
what makes great jam bad med’cine unconfined,
we swallow, blink through tearful, childish eyes.
Pteridium: common bracken
Downsbanks, the Outlanes, near Stone, Staffs
Good uses once, bad press the enemy
these days: relentless mobster, triffid from
some darker world, a ticking toxic bomb;
giant smotherer, hair-trigger fiddlehead,
sea horse, palms microdots by sleight-of-hand,
lust-primed, on lacy fronds; full-cocking, fires
live dust; now toasted, humming, texture, taste
and smell, green shoots quick underground, makes rust.
We charge, ‘The True-Born Englishman’ our text,
resist your flaxen horde, outlandish waves
of ’kern and gallowglass, invasive tides
of migrants, infidels, with garden canes,
then heroes, glorious in retreat, course home
on armored steeds, peckish, sun-flushed, replete.
Images courtesy of plantillustrations.org.