Two Poems for my mother, Rachael

The Post War Garden

The daffodils died very quickly
‘Everlasting flowers are the best.’ My mother said.
‘Everlasting? What are they?’
‘Paper.’ Her reply was as dry as the shrivelled petals.
Just like your skin, I thought, fragile and brittle.
And yet my mother tended geraniums and delphinium,
nasturtiums whose leaves we ate,
the wild garden a marvel of chaos
considering what she had seen,
fleeing death in narrow alleys and sewers
in Nazi Europe with low clouds reflected in
mirrors and broken windows.
Her madness feeds the garden, fecund and uncontrollable,
black soil so rich worms slither
lavender and thyme invade the shimmering air,
sitting in the old wicker chair lopsided
watching next door’s cat slinking low bellied,
thinking he is invisible.
‘Your father says grow rhubarb
but those are poisonous,
better I say golden rod and marigolds
whose glow brings out the sun.’


The tendrils of the leaves
echoing your veins in hands so transparent
if not for blood you could see the day,
at dusk your darkness becomes visible,
ancient memories waiting for the moon,
when you are at your happiest,
clock ticking candles glow
as you draw the red chalk circle on the wooden floor.

Peter Woodcock March 2020




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