Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0036 Hanging Garden - Poem by Michael Shepherd

The pink geraniums
hanging in their plastic terracotta bowl
twist gently to and fro in the slight breeze
as if they’re quietly impatient
for my attention.

It’s their third year up there –
I never expected them to last
more than a year, but
half exposed, half sheltering
under what’s less a porch
than an architectural feature,
they’ve decided to make a go of it

this week in late July moving into August,
they’re into their later style of flowering –
not the profundity of early summer
when they decide exactly when to burst
upon the world petal to petal in a huge bouquet

but delicately, translucent,
both flower and small leaves, letting the sky pass through
as if they know all about colour slides
and simply, do it better.

after their first burst of flower,
they retired into themselves
as if they were exhausted – although
I never asked that of them; while
my respect for them grows year by year

sometimes I think I ought to feed them
like proper gardeners do,
since they don’t have much soil up there
and that’s fed them for three years now

but then I think, no, that’s
asking more of them than they, abundantly, do
so I’ll settle for what they want to offer me

we seem to know each other’s there,
but sometimes they call unexpectedly
like today, when I’m not busy with something else,
and when I give them full attention
as if I’m asking them deep questions
which I’ve never formulated for myself
yet which they’re prepared to answer,
they pour out information about
what I’d call God’s glorious Creation
(what they call it, if they need to call it
anything, gives the mind pause)
in a list which, as they speak it, quality by quality,
gift after gift, invention after invention,

seems no is, as endless as humility

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, July 29, 2006

Poem Edited: Thursday, August 19, 2010

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