Paul Surman

The Gardener

I will go to earth in the long herbaceous border
with my back against a wall of warm red brick,
the all there is of me scarce as grams of breath.

After which I will stay there behind floral drifts
of colour, learning how to unlearn the language
I have spoken, until all speech has been deleted
and words are broken into single letters littered
across the ground like dead leaves, fallen petals.

I will be lost in the low hum of attendant insects,
mesmeric bees and hoverflies I can’t distinguish
from the voice of the air moving through stems.

My last decipherable impression, the earth rising
to meet me, as if asking “are you ready to leave?”
And I will be, buried in an incoherent yes, sibilant
and indistinguishable from the breeze or insects,
the background music of weather and fecundity,
as I become the compost of my vague ambitions,
– half-thought-through ideas, unreliable memories.

My indelicate odours of decay, lost in perfumes
of a new slow-ripening summer, the only residue
of me. Except a patch of darker earth like a stain
remaining of what I never understood, questions
I didn’t ask, about the perfection of having lived.

Paul Surman lives in Oxford where he is a member of Back Room Poets, and helps them run workshops and readings. He has been widely published, in Acumen (several times), and numerous other magazines. His first collection is due to go before a publishers editorial panel in the autumn.