I am accustomed to being becalmed, and going out very little, but now most of the rest of the world has joined me. Keyworkers are busy but others must stay at home to protect us from Covid-19. Life is not a bed of roses for anyone.

People are looking for ways to cope with isolation, singing silly songs, knitting, gathering in virtual chat rooms, or learning to play the ukulele.  Gardens and allotments are being tended as never before.

Many years ago we made a pond in our back garden; it was immediately colonised by frogs, dragonflies and other wildlife, including an occasional heron.  Sometimes, in November when the tadpoles have all hopped out of the pond, a build up of dead leaves and other gunk needs to be cleared from the bottom of the pond. All this dead muck goes on the vegetable garden to await transformation. 

These are prize-winning vegetables photographed at the Vale of Glamorgan show a few years ago. I love the way they have been so carefully dug up with their roots unbroken and washed clean to show the beauty of the colours drawn from the blackness of the mud. 
The barrow’s full of gloop
dredged from the pond. I lift 
the handles and the muck
slumps on the kitchen plot. 
The birds fly down, 
impress the sticky surface
with spiky hieroglyphics; 
at night the narrow-footed fox
sets down his feral mark, 
the worms cast autumn towers,
strange outlines overlap and crack.
I fetch a spade and turn 
enigmas upside down,
and hide the stinking ooze
of long dead frogs and fish, 
their convoluted DNA
torn into shreds, the slime
of spawn that failed, the dung 
of herons, beetles, gulls;
a sludge of windswept leaves 
and curling water weeds,
collapsed, compressed, 
with fallen flowers of iris,
lilies, kingcups, mimulus. 
I’m hungry for the Spring, 
for lettuce, carrots, beans and beets, 
the scrumptious colours rising from 
the slurp of sickening black. 
there are no vegetables in my garden at the moment but the rhubarb is flourishing

4 thoughts on “DRAWING ON BLACK”

  1. Loved the poem Anne. So descriptive and cheered by the hopefulness. Beautiful photos. I love the long roots on the vegetables too.

  2. Nature is so wonderful and is very much appreciated in this fine weather. Your poem adds to this enjoyment now that we have so much time to enjoy it. Lovely Anne thanks.

  3. I really love this poem, Anne. It is as packed full of stuff (ideas and images) as that black sludge. I especially liked the image of the dark mud contrasted with the colourful growing vegetables. Where I might have just seen mud, I like the way you described it almost as if you saw it through a microscope with all its components – fascinating.

  4. Hi Anne, Once again your poem has hit the spot. You have encapsulated such a lot things I love about garden matters. I am not a natural gardener, but I do have an appreciation of black mud, having recently cleared a blocked land drain. It was very therapeutic even though I had to put everything I was wearing in the wash afterwards. Plus I love rubbarb! Drawing on Black is a lovely evocation of the current times, Many thanks,
    Jane MWRG

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