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:
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;
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:
But rising June._____
And in the sky
The dust dissected the tangential light:
But rising night;
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;
But rising dead.
Norman Nicholson (from Complete Verse, Jonathan Cape, 1999)