Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Purposeless Walking




 I’m walking Spot up the street. He stops, sniffs, adds
to a stain on the pavement. I wait, see Brenda’s tulips;
green streaks on white. Goblet-shaped. Recall Isnik

plates at the British Museum: green tulips, white carnations,
intertwined.  Hello, I say to a man with staring eyes. He’s
plugged into music. His vague smile isn’t for me. We’re into

allotments, by the hedge I planted. Now birds nest in this hawthorn
tangled with honeysuckle. Sweet white lilac, starry panicles.
‘Madame Lemoine.’ A fragrant wife? What lovely immortality,

a plant named for you. A Sweaty Betty jogs by, terrier in tow
which sees us, sighs, is tugged away. Spot waters woodruff.
‘No Entry’. A Holly Blue, a chip of sky, flits through the gate.

A froth of cow parsley shows why, when I cup each intricate
umbel, it’s Queen Anne’s Lace. An old family photo: sad face,
fingers clenched in the lap of a black dress. Worked to the bone.

My father’s great-grandmother, from Grafton Underwood. Lacemaker.
He showed me her cottage years ago. Someone rich must live there now.
I share her DNA, not her poverty. Turn homeward, thoughtful, slow.
The slow death of purposeless walking
©Sue Norton

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