I imagine myself as a tiger lily,
golden,rich with fertile pollen,
exotic and beautiful.
I assume the form of a dahlia,
floriferous, substantial, ornamental,
ready to be cut and shown.
I insinuate myself into a carnation,
ruffled and ubiquitous, always thirsty,
drinking in every last drop.
I try on the dog daisy’s petals,
lift out one white ray flower, then another
until I am twirling in the rare sunshine,
Bright yellow at my core, lover of scrub,
Infertile ground, popping up alongside
stone walls, in ditches, anywhere
I will be forgotten. Overlooked.
A scrappy dog daisy—contrary, defiant—
I hide my torn leaves, my insecurities,
my fear of self exposure.
I bloom best where I’m not wanted.
He loves me, he loves me not.
These are the games I play.
Some days he loves me,
some days he loves me not.
I am a flower made up of flowers
—tubular flowers, ray flowers—
I am more flowers than I seem,
complicated beneath this smile,
this sunny glance, here, alongside
the couch grass and nettles.
I hear the wrong words before I realise—
How about some dishwasher for dinner?
Or, would you prefer some panic?
The randomness—nouns for nouns,
or unconnected adjectives—startles me.
I’ve seen what dementia does,
and I know this is not the same.
But—my words!—how can this be
the stuff of jokes?The doctors say:
Women your age. Stress.
But why would my brain decide
to remap my entire language, move
my words into the wrong places?
Its use of glucose is muddled,
hypometabolism, in spite of decades of cake.
The rest of me slows down too.
My brain and me, we’re ageing, gaining
unnecessary cells, rapidly, together.
We fantasise about antioxidants and exercise.
Autophagy and the disintegration of amyloid beta.
Increased volumes of grey matter, white matter.
Any kind of matter, we’d take it all.
The Night Fox
The night fox stalks across our garden—
she’s young, bushy-tailed and small,
unburdened by pups.
I want to warn her—
watch out for lovely girls in red hoodies,
bright lies and people in ties. Watch out for
anyone who tries to tell you what to do,
how to speak,
what to say.
Play games your way.
She trots—no, struts—in the rousing darkness,
aims for something I can’t see.
A future mate is out there. Hunters and farmers.
Her grandmother’s ghost. Little Red Nike Hood.
The omens are there under the full moon.
She will be too proud, too different, she will
stand out too much.
Her red coat will mark her out.
Others will tell her to tone it down a bit,
don’t be so loud, conform, at least try to fit in.
I want to tell her—
keep your head in the clouds, hold it high,
jive through fields of sheep, ignore the scent
of rubbish bins, of past lovers, of leftovers,
avoid husbands and houses and fetters
every night of your immortal life.