Taking Instructions from Gertrude Jekyll
A woodland at its best is only wallpaper, as death Is also a kind of membrane, moist but stiffening When the year turns. It is summer when we pass Along the borders, but there are white foxgloves At the edge of a beech wood. Between us and the time It takes to walk into autumn there’s a mass Of leaves, leaves trodden down close, and all The mould that hides our last Alstroemerias. Let me tell you when the fern-walk is at its best; I mean late August, of course, in a damp wood Where you must always remember the dead. Quite simply, only those who can truly remember Can see our true companions, Linnaea, Trientalis And Trillium – they have a burned nature of wood. They fold into us like mothers at a coffin, like Sisters still turning over the neat habits of growth In the hope of finding the disappeared; of turning Suddenly into a copse of half-hardy Helichrysum Or Tritomas with their doubtful endurance. The wet sky has a green wash. Even at night When you walk here the moon works lightly with Its silver adjustments, making the stems of holly Into legs of deer frozen to earth in fear; here Where the fox has cantered, as pictorial As the moods of autumn, as beautiful As the long ridge of dwarf Andromeda. I wish I could tell you when the night stories began Of the small bush roses that make no use Of moonlight or limping deer, or impish foxes
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