Monday 21 August 2017

Poem by Michelle McGrane

Michelle McGrane's collection The Suitable Girl is published by Pindrop Press in the United Kingdom and Modjaji Books in South Africa. She lives in Johannesburg.

Michelle writes of the following poem: "The poem was included in a beautiful anthology of poetry and art, edited by Agnes Marton, called Drifting Down the LaneFor a while I've been intrigued and enchanted by the magical work of French scientist, botanist and artist, Patrick Blanc, and his creation of green walls and vertical gardens, the new life he's created for buildings' exteriors and the positive effects these living walls have had on people's lives. I wanted to write something that I felt would be relevant to our lives in cities today all over the world: environmental devastation; the decline of wildlife in urban areas, and spiritual decline, too - the effect that being surrounded by soulless, lifeless places and a lack of greenery has on our psyches."

The Architecture of Leaves

It's a breathing tapestry, a solar shield,
a canvas of ferns, vines and epiphytes
rising six flights in a city besieged
by billboards and exhaust residues.

It's a hydroponic lung, a capillary song,
a glissando of blooms, shrubs and grasses
colonising nooks and crevices, meshed
roots threading through propagation felt.

It's a verdant beacon, an urgent semaphore,
a nitrogen enriched, drip irrigated 3-D mural.
It's sedge, old man's beard, mile-a-minute,
coral bells, mandevilla and climbing fig.

It's riotous bougainvillea, feathery acacia,
mauve wisteria, plumed buddleias and shy violas.
It's long-awned stipa, creeping jenny,
saxifrage rosettes and dusky pink sedums.

It's a wind-borne destination, a butterfly haven,
a rendezvous for starlings and sparrows
amid ovate, palmate, dark glossy trifoliate,
white-veined, heart-shaped, variegated leaves.

It's arachnid hieroglyphics, a ghost in the machine,
the ciphers concealed in spores and seeds.
It's a pulse among blue-chip glass and steel,
above footsteps, fag-ends and fast food debris.

It's a chlorophyll dream, a green hallelujah,
a living tourniquet, a shrine to Gaia,
an antidote to banks and strip-lit malls,
heat islands, car parks and concrete flyovers.