Monday, June 21, 2010

Tuesday Poem 22 June 2010


Not a maple in sight, when she
sold us the place Elizabeth asked

if she could dig up a cherished camellia.
While we believed it was too big to survive

the strain we said ‘Sure’. Behind
the hole it left was a cowering wintersweet.

Lesley gave a white abutilon cutting
to fill the gap. Stasis did not prevail.

The flame lit, competitively the two plants
bolted for the space of sky, a trajectory

of green-power. Nature’s not into charity.
The surrounding tall trees presented a challenge.

After two years, the abutilon now has a three
foot stem before four leggy branches, huge leaves

& only five flowers, graceful as dance skaters
on ice. Revitalised the wintersweet jostles like

an overbearing ice hockey jock. There is only
room for one on the central podium. My money‘s

on the abutilon, but there are further
complications in our small coppice corner

for at their feet there’s this cheeky indigenous
intruder, a red stemmed, peppery-leaved matipo

Harvey McQueen

In posting poems on Mary McCallum's blog that have previously appeared I realise there is a risk of alienating readers. If you’ve read it before and can’t be bothered to do so again – pass on. If not re-read. It is the nature of poems to be read again and again.

This poem was written during the time of the winter olympics. For the benefit of new readers I have a rare muscular degenerative disease. On this day my care-giver had taken me to a seat at the end of our section. I’d planted that abutilon tree, so I was interested in its progress. The competition of the various plants was striking. I came inside and the poem tumbled ready-made on to the word-processor – nature, green in leaf and bough.


  1. Harvey,

    Lovely -- the onomatopoeia, the consonance, assonance and alliteration -- the competing sounds. Great to read aloud.


  2. I love the personalities of the trees - oh the poor cowering wintersweet! For your blog readers interested in visiting more Tuesday Poems (and they are a feaat) go to

  3. The feel of live action in this poem is, for me, made singular and spectacular by the fact that the competing action is between plants. Reading about plants bolting (plus the line "My money's / on the abutilon" which speaks well of the gravity of the competition), well, that made my day. Now I have another context to think of when I read or hear the words "winter olympics," one that doesn't involve bipeds.