1. Camellia japonica


Like a shrub, 

you can kill a woman 

if you pull her, 


out of the ground. 


Best chance—

though no guarantee—

is to cut her 

back, go hard 

with secateurs and shears, 


leave half of her 

to wither on the lawn, her 

carefully curated clothes, her 

homemade cassettes, her 

glossy magazines. 


Press your boot to a spade, 

dig out the root ball. 

Slice through her 

taproot, strand it 

in red earth 


like the cartilage of a throat,

a pale larynx warning her, 

in her new world, her

place in the Garden,

you will never belong. 

  1. Blackberry 


You have seen me here, writing love notes to the Wollemi.

Regardless, you must notify the authorities.

I am a weed of national significance.


Elsewhere, I am native—useful even:

beloved bramble, Rubus fruticosus, dris.

Behold my barbed curtains, haven for the wren and finch,


see my floricanes—star-flowered, bee-nuzzled, oh so pretty

in the ditches—laden down with blue-black

fruit by autumn. Once, I was succour,


 saviour, for the daughters of a famine-

stricken land. You fear my thorny daughters,

taking root in every blooming place my suckers land.


Report me at once.

Scrape-and-paint me.

Rip me out.

  1. English bluebell 


No one seems to know about the Monksgrange Woods,

only Helen. She has brought me here to see the bluebells. 


We are wearing the same gingham dress in different shades, 

apron-style with ruffles on the shoulder. We are wading, 


knee-deep in indigo, we are taking off our sandals. 

It’s safe here—you could place your hand inside the hollow 


of a fallen mossy limb and have no fear of venom. 

Flowers can trick you into thinking you can take them home, 


but these are not for vases nor for window pots. They like

it here, in shade and light, among the oak and lichen. 


One day, I will plant Spanish bluebells beneath a weeping

cherry. They will be as near to the real thing as I can find. 


The garden will face south, and my mother—sunworshipper—

will not believe that south can be a chilly, shady place.  


Now, the doppelgängers dangle in a different spring 

in a front yard barely troubled by the sun.

*Dris is the Irish (Gaelic) word for bramble or blackberry.