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Books & Poetry

Poem: Of Marigolds, Mexican and Miscellaneous

Books & Poetry

A vibrant but sometimes at odds flower inspires this week’s Poet’s Corner contribution from Michele Slatter.

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Of Marigolds, Mexican and Miscellaneous

‘Tidy, upright, doesn’t climb or creep, not lax or parasitic.
Excellent in groups: will hedge, can drift. Ideal alone.
No special treatment, nutrients or care,
sweet scent, robust, reliable, good stock.’


Supported, trained, cut down to size, tied in,
vigour applauded, excess gently trimmed,
wayward tendencies almost contained.
Respected as prolific, easy-going, sound
but not embraced in full; always some doubt.

Too keen, perhaps? Too bright?
Habits too vigorous for these surrounds?
Too forward, always seeking out the light?
Perhaps ‘dishevelled’ in this careful scene
where, manicured and shaped, clipped and polite,
the daphnes, rosemaries and rose,
jasmines and violets, olives, hazels, ash
with silver dollars visible behind
accept the strictures of a grand design.

Or is it history that distances?
The unshared past just glimpsed, not understood.
The stranger introducing difference
unsettling, like a harbinger of change.
Shadows of incense in the soft perfume
a legacy of customs far from here.
Do these seed doubt, distrust, distaste
masked by polite proximity;
suspicion, wariness of one
whose spirit marches to a different drum?

Who really knows what fuels antipathy,
that fugitive, elusive, visceral sense?
‘Too yellow.’ ‘Far too strong.’ ‘Too colourful.’
‘Unsubtle with the pastels and the greys.’
‘Did well, a useful choice, but out of place’.


But being uprooted and then left alone,
the roots sought out another, friendlier, home.
Among the lilies, poppies, marguerites,
sweet william, irises, veronicas
they mingle, colourful and unrepressed.
Now yellow simply shines like all the rest.

Michele Slatter lives in Adelaide. Educated at Durham University and University College London, she is a semi-retired law academic who has written extensively professionally and continues to undertake consultancy and research. With time to do so now, however, she also enjoys the adventure of writing ‘faction’ and occasionally poetry, and is a member of an active writers’ group.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.


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