Kew Gardens, March 2022
Late-winter dawns the larches start to sing
their conjuring of bright green coronets
like miniature elvish party hats strung
along hanging shoots in sheets of song –
notating, emoji-like, clean morning notes.
And then you see scarlet-and-green mitres,
miracles of meticulous enamel
artistry, as your mist of breathing clears –
cabinet of a devout midwife’s tears
for the exiled female pope, turned crystal-
line. But your tears flow, since winter scarcely
hurt for once: already spring has brought
its tragic joy, the lengthening days that slow
the fierce arithmetic of life below
stairs or stars, in kitchen or papal court.
All beauty needs its nearby monument.
Each worn-out rose in dense dull clusters keens
along bare twigs, the soul-like seeds all spent,
soft flesh bewitched to wood’s die-hard lament,
like heads suspended from a bridge: proud cones.