Larch Avenue

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.