By Ruth Butler
FROM DAFFODILS TO DODDER
Mid-March, on my way into lock-down,
I bought a bunch of daffodils, to remind me
of the fields of them I wouldn’t see;
and, in a pot, blue wood anemones.
I planted them beneath my Acer, to remind me
of the massed white windflowers I would be missing,
below the budding canopies of forest trees.
April, the television weather-man stood on a Devon cliff,
His shoes hidden by tussocky pink thrift.
That’s where I most wanted to be.
A lone bluebell that flowered in my small garden,
spoke of the blue haze that would soon
extend across the floors of woodlands,
brighten moors and hills
Early May, my Birthday. Far-flung petals
drifted past the windows of my room,
and I was missing… hawthorn hedges,
May blossom, around the edges… of fields,
its slight, subtle perfume.
Late May, I played hooky from lock-down
to see a field of orchids in the country park.
Masked, walked the footpath across the campus,
university security guards
turned me back.
June, I thought of yellow water irises
In that valley sixty miles away, near Hartland Quay
and here in Exeter, fringing the ship canal –
both places equally
July, I’m still at home.
Those lovely empty beaches
are already full again, but I’ve no wish
to spend the sunny hours in such crowds;
though I will dream… of being on the cliffs,
seeing the long view of the sea,
walking between the turf and rocks,
among the varied flowers.
August. Dare I take a train?
Will I get there: walk the coast again,
see late red campion, dead brown flower-heads,
spiky gorse bushes with pale pink straw hats?
DODDER does that – grows, scrambles, smothers…
Rootless, and with no green leaves, it spreads
from bush to bush, a mesh of pink and white.
Each year gorse struggles to survive
Ruth Butler: born on the East Coast, has lived in Devon for 50 years, and written poetry for 25 of those; occasionally published, and regularly performing around the South West.
In From Daffodils to Dodder I feel the transformation from initially trusting that this dreadful crisis would eventually go away and being patient, to the certainty that it wouldn’t, That it may change a bit with the seasons, but it is here to stay, we will never be free of it.
In The Dinosaur Cafe our perception of threat becomes transformed by it.We used to be wary of our environment but sociable, now we are most wary of the people around us.