Palatinate Poetry: Undergrowth



The stirring of earth — then

The birth of a single white shoot,

Stark as bone,

One bud sprouting upwards,

Determined, triumphant.


Silt and clay crumble,

Give way to the growth

As one shoot becomes four —

Five — twisting, writhing

From the root to which they are wedded,

Joined by a hand, a wrist,

An arm…


Galvanised, they rise. Now

A twin wrist of fingers springs up

Beside them, a hot white bolt of lightning,

The ivory bride of the first

Clothed in a veil of dust.


Hands clutching the ground, with an almighty push

A head starts to surface, a crest of earth breaking,

Tumbling, falling

Over the appalling shape that comes stubbornly crawling.


A cracked-glass cry rattles through that mottled, globular

Husk that once housed a mind, resounding

Through a jumbled framework — leased-out white clapboard, clumsily stacked —

That continues to climb with a drive

That defies the want for eyes.


Stumbling through the undergrowth,

The eyeless, lipless, lumbering scaffolding

Sheds foliage and dirt and cadaverine

Like desires and anxieties, leaving them to slip,


To sink, to seep into soil

For which this being has as little need

As the fleeting mortal cloak

It shrugged off long ago.


Instinct brings it lurching

Towards a glow of warmth, towards

A window, to trace the glass pane

Displaying that familiar congregation

Of faces


Lately engraved

With the grey lines

Of time; age-worn, grief-worn, worn



To tap the divide between within and without,


Impossible to see that one inside

Is standing – right there – on the other side,

But does not shout;


In the gloom, she has mistaken it

For a mirror. She retreats into the room

As she pulls shut the curtains

And turns the light out.


Image by PapaPiper via Flickr Creative Commons 

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