It exploded from my mother’s cutting—
migrainous flare
skirting the green edge of morning,

a moat of unending motion
crowdsurfing the air.
Its invasion was incremental—

first a cluster, spade-cut
from my grandmother’s garden
ferried home after the funeral

in our canary-yellow Holden
and buried in a rubble of shadow
between fiddle-leaf and flax.

Then the creep—sprigs
patrolling the pavers,
a quick prickle of stems.

After rain, sudden detonation:
black bamboo stakes
flounced with shavings of lettuce,

jostling with jurassic spears
of birds-of-paradise,
that pterodactylic splay of flames.

Between breaths
you could hear each leaf
twitching. Cuttles and quills

in paisley formation,
undersides pimpled
with permanent gooseflesh.

Today, twenty years late,
I find it in the garden, still
practising its one idea to exhaustion—

shivering leaflets
moving in anxious jubilation,
pockets of eternal thicket,

while I tipple on the edge
of the uncurling present,
watching my life harden into its one shape

the way my grandmother
smoothed her hair each morning
into a standing wave.

New Shoots celebrates and cultivates poems inspired by plants and place to deepen cultural connections with nature. In 2018, Red Room Poetry brought the program to Cairns Botanical Gardens. Here poet Sarah Holland-Batt led a masterclass, in which she shared new commissioned poems, including 'Maidenhair', inspired by the gardens.