by Robert de Born
Did they weave a woman? A wife for him, winding
thin stems on a sturdy stone table,
muttering magic, make… legs?
make midriff, make arms
from lily stalks, lain awkwardly
down to draw dainty cuffs
from the tepals, to string the stamina into
fragile fingertips, flowering in Catholic
did they whittle sweet william down
to be the pale pinkish pads under toenails,
deadhead red dianthus, neck
carnations for her nipples, craft
eyes from impossible pale poppies…
red roses for her cheeks, dark tulips for her hair…
Did they weave a wife, a woman for him, whispering
incantations in late answer to his prayer?
He thought they had;
bound her in a bed,
picked her petals to pieces, pared,
plucked out new colours, drew calendars…
loamy soil for the roses
And then Autumn.
He stood stock still to see
the teasels and the nettles
the yarrow and the campion
the burnets and the knapweed
that spilled themselves sunwards,
as she walked away
like a shadow from sunlight.
Did they weave a woman from the flowers?
with my cards, the magician, the fool,
less real than a dandelion’s bristles,
bewitched by wild orchids,
and the thorn
and the thistle.