In My Backyard ~ A story of everyday extinction.

With downy hemp nettle

And lamb’s succory

In my backyard,

Rabbit and fox,

Dream away the memory of names,

Dripping ancient feathers

Down back-lanes, death by the barrow’s side.


With stinking hawks beard

And purple spurge

In my backyard,

Ghost flowers, in tepees of delicacy,

Decked out in garlands of stresses,

Sitting-bull among the bulldozers

Through the massacres of the meadow floor.


With summer lady tresses

And irish saxifrage

In my backyard,

Homeless bees dance intoxications

Into an amber honeycombed light,

Lost loves who dervish among the clovers

Ways out of this sky-scrapered wilderness.


With interrupted brome

And narrow leaved cud-weed

In my backyard,

In lost battalions, fields that will not yield

Are fluttering scraps of ensigns

To the parting of fragrant petals,

Solitary paths through the severed grass.


With york groundsel

And small-burr parsley

In my backyard,

Petal and eggshell, the frail meadow-sweet

Passes in the time you take,

To shake away a roadside piss,

The time you have to make up your mind!


After the holocaust of the hedgerows,

After the acrid smoke of chemical controls,

All of these, these Roots,

seeking raw ways forward under burnt soil.

Drop by petal drop,

The blood of sepals re-joining the earth,

partial promises of what summers may come,


In our backyard.


Notes:

The first two lines of each verse commemorate a common meadow flower that has been either extremely close to extinction or has actually become extinct in Britain since the Queen’s coronation in 1953.


For example Lamb's Succory was declared extinct in 1971, it was re-introduced and there has been one subsequent sighting. The causes of this species genocide are the use of pesticides, industrial farming and climate change.

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