The Tuesday Poem

Poet Mary Noonan

Household Plant

Countless plants, budded under a bad star,

came to terminate their existences here,

drying and shrivelling in undersized pots, starved

for want of a look, the brush of fingers on stem or leaves —

until this turned up. A cutting from an optimist,

it sits today in the self-same pot in which it arrived,

fruit of eight winters of disregard, feeding on dust

and what light it can glean from my northern window.

After several years, its foolhardy persistence

caused me to take a second look. It grew.

Each May it would stop me in my tracks

by springing its pendant flowers on me,

pearlised stars, small and slight as snowflakes

glistening on a fantail of dark foliage —

showers of brazen spade leaves flashing

black velvet to the light, deep red to the shade.

Mesmerised, I would sit and look, wanting

to stroke the silken teguments, each with

a green eye at its core, fine thread veins radiating

to pink-speckled stems and all sprawling wildly,

a luxuriant Medusa on the mantelpiece,

luring me to wonder at its resolute cycle,

its blatant refusal to wilt, its snatching of life

from thin air, from the stones housing its roots.

* Mary Noonan received the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize and her first book The Fado House was published by Dedalus Press. She lectures in French at UCC.


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