Mike Barlow

Raised Beds

Her four husbands she keeps
fertile in the four raised beds
of the kitchen garden.

Ronnie, number one, safe man but so dull
with his meat and two veg life.
This year he’s good for potatoes.

She’ll hill up with an eye for the gold ring
she’d failed to prise
from his swollen finger.

For contrast next came Jeremy, flash
and promising the earth, but never
down to earth until a heart attack.

Good for leeks, but needs his fix
of nitrogen, so every other year
she plants broad beans.

Arthur liked to play the field. Now he’s host
to any old grass or weed,
needs constant hoeing,

just as in life she’d have to
go through his pockets to sort the truth
from the chaff of his make believe.

And Phil. Well, Phil, she thought, was a bet
you could put your shirt on.
But he came in last

and now was only good
for radishes and salad leaves,
though the rocket always bolts.