Rising Five 

This is the first sunflower I have ever successfully grown, as the slugs have always eaten my other attempts. The flower was wonderful, and I resisted the temptation to tidy away the  faded bloom, because I wanted the seeds to develope and here they are clustered black and glossy beneath the old flower. They put my in mind of a favorite poem:

Rising Five.

I’m rising five” he said

“Not four” and the little coils of hair

Un-clicked themselves upon his head.

His spectacles, brimful of eyes to stare

At me and the meadow, reflected cones of light

Above his toffee-buckled cheeks. He’d been alive

Fifty-six months or perhaps a week more;

_____________Not four

But rising five.
Around him in the field, the cells of spring

Bubbled and doubled; buds unbuttoned; shoot

And stem shook out the creases from their frills,

And every tree was swilled with green.

It was the season after blossoming,

Before the forming of the fruit:

_____Not May

But rising June._____
And in the sky

The dust dissected the tangential light:

_____Not day

But rising night;

_____Not now

But rising soon.
The new buds push the old leaves from the bough.

We drop our youth behind us like a boy

Throwing away his toffee-wrappers. We never see the flower,

But only the fruit in the flower; never the fruit,

But only the rot in the fruit. We look for the marriage bed

In the baby’s cradle; we look for the grave in the bed;

_____Not living

But rising dead.

Norman Nicholson (from Complete Verse, Jonathan Cape, 1999)

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