Eco-Warrior by David Selzer

for Elise Oliver

 

If, when I grow even older than I am

now and were, perhaps, too old to make poems,

I would become a sower of wildflowers.

 

Each year, I would begin with the Narrows,

an ancient path where our street ends -

where children are walked to school, commuters

work to walk, and revellers sway home

caterwauling. Each spring and summer

in the unkempt verges there would be the sight

and scent of Bird's-foot Trefoil, Kidney Vetch,

Viper's Bugloss, Common Agrimony.

 

Next I would target driveways that had been

front gardens. Under cover of masking

a cough or saluting an imagined friend

I would scatter Yarrow, Borage, Cornflower,

Common Goatsbeard, Purple Loosestrife, Herb Robert.

 

There is a section of our local park,

between a laurel hedge and cast iron railings,

a glade of Stygian dimness, filled

with modest monuments to the dead.

I would broadcast Field Forget-me-not,

Meadowsweet, Welsh Poppy, Cowslip, Corn Cockle.

 

To plan for when I could no longer shuffle

about the neighbourhood I would recruit

a volunteer band of almost antiques.

I would train them in our back garden

in techniques of broadcasting and dissembling,

and receive their reports, in due course,

on our colonisers' colours, perfumes,

the roll-call of their names.