The Word Harvest

A stem forced to curve will increase future yield of flowers or fruit

It is happiness, of a sort. Or hell.
At least, he has something
to rail against. A grain in his shell.
This is often as close as he gets.

He would not leave her: looked away
but bound himself, to act the pliant innocent.
Yet I watched him. Did I play
voyeur? Both addicts, of our own kind.

Spring leaves feathered from his lip
through breaths for help, or of denial.
Green wood drew a dark necrosis up
so his words evolved, and learned to feed.

I felt the first pucker of my skin
into bark, and ran. His eyes blinked once
and from his mouth swelled a slow grin,
then a fruit, teardrop fat and shining.

He doubled over, retched and cursed:
it dropped, the phrases perfumed, wit assured.
A second grew, insistent as the first
to rise. He had fulfilled his own grim prophesy.

It is a wonderful harvest, they say.
Without equal. A vintage to savour.
I find a kernel in my pocket some days
and know another fruit has fallen.

Their talk is all of complex richness.
I clench my fist round this small dry thing
and imagine a complex richness.
It is wooden in my palm, and tastes of nothing.

The Word Harvest was published by Poetry Wales in Spring 2005.