The Urban Scrumper

Ags Irwin

reader Ruth Lass

In these endless days of timeless time
Silence hangs heavy in the air
The usual London sounds now absent
Instead a bird, a distant train
The clattering of washing up a street away
A day. Today.
I make a plan and set forth
In broad daylight
Guilt steals over me
First, I am shielding
Locked down. Hard words
Defend. Imprison
But I will break out
A covert criminal
I gather trowel, secateurs, gardening gloves
A shopping bag
Waitrose not Aldi for where I’m heading
Through the wealthy streets I walk unnoticed
An older, white-haired, half-breasted woman
In the empty churchyards
Where the wild flowers grow unkempt 
There is speedwell and pink geranium  
A hard dig in this dry soil
Tangles of honeysuckle
Escaped over a wrought iron gate, pruned
A cluster of California poppies split and bagged
A branch of fragrant jasmine that will surely grow
Then a few extras 
Those overhanging roses
Sweet scented and plentiful 
A white lilac, a sprig, heavy with blooms
Now the urban scrumper: home undetected
Yet the spoils slump in my patio
Their heads fall in grief at their uprooting
But they will set seed and sail on the wind into next year
Next year
Time for one last forage
I need fresh mint
A few streets away, raised beds flourish
Abundant with swaying hollyhocks and tall red poppies
Fraying fronds of fennel and sky blue cornflowers
Pink valerian blown in from the coast 
Rose campion and dots of herbs; rosemary, sage, thyme and mint
Mint for my gin and tonic
We sail on the wind.

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