We play the same game every year, Nature and I.
Snowdrops pierce cold ground on the shortest day, sensing the turn.
The dunnock’s song scribbles a reminder on the air: time to catch up,
Crop dry stalks, dig up interlopers, make the earthy beds for spring flowers.
By equinox, the orange flames of crocuses have burned out,
The tête-à-têtes have nothing more to say
And the patch of clay I cleared last autumn
Is green with stubborn shoots of quince again.
With ground too hard to dig, I bend, secateurs in hand to snip and snip and snip,
And wonder at the tenacity that sends new sprigs to test me time and again;
A brotherhood of stalks linked underground
Armed with thorns like bee stings under skin–a cut for a cut.
Intent on making space for summer blooms, I fail to see
The saxifrage’s bid to overwhelm the flowerbed,
Or dancing snow-in-summer vie to be the queen of the border,
The dreaming love-in-a-mist displaying every shade of blue
From midnight to skylark noon,
Until I try to stand up straight and feel at last the sun on my back
And the breeze that makes the foxgloves nod.
Before the autumn turns to winter,
Maybe I’ll plant spring bulbs and score a point.
More likely, nature will get there first again,
And maybe I’ll concede defeat,
Admit that weeds are flowers too,
Enjoy instead white bindweed trumpets
(As glorious as any purple morning),
Trail fingers through a haze of blue forget-me-nots,
Count time as egg yolk discs of dandelions turn
To airy parasols and fly away to spread their cheer.
The world is forced to pause and take stock,
But nature’s headlong rush goes on.
Whatever else, one thing is certain:
This game of ours is never done.
- THE NEVER-ENDING GAME - 25th June 2021