Monday, October 16, 2006


The woodlice scattered
as I moved the old red brick,
one of the many my father had used
to hem in his lines of border pinks.
They alarmed a bloodworm, escaped
through chinks in the flattened earth,
scrambled for hides under white roots
and made a wireworm writhe
an orange rage.

The old plants had toiled,
crawled out of the soil on ever thickening stems,
with offspring still clinging, living off their backs.
Dragging out their mothers’ deaths
with a reluctance to root.

The spade can be a cruel tool,
biting through grub-riddled root stock,
prising its grip from a life
of mould and rot.

I took the young, and with my knife
cut off each growing shoot,
the sponging life was over now -
they had to learn to root, or die alone -
Not live
forever grafted to the hollowed bone
of worm-eaten parents.

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