Tuesday, 12 September 2017

White Bryony

I saw it well before I came to cross the stile:
that flash of orange-red skeining the hedge
the opposite side of the lane. On this September day
all the hedges are laden: tight berries of hawthorn,
dark and waxy, and the lighter tones of rose hips,
which we used to break open to make itching powder;
then, here and there, close clusters of honeysuckle fruits
that cling to the end of their naked stems. But here
the berries of white bryony tumble across the hedge
like an untidy string of pearls - but what pearls!
The young green berries fade almost to white,
glistening softly, before the orange tint forms,
and strengthens, and deepens, to become like flame.
The ripe berries are attractive, they grab the eye,
but they are deceivers, and will poison the unwary.
The plant straggles up the hedge, its leaves (to me)
the shape of baby dinosaur footprints, then, near the crown,
it releases its fruiting stems to tumble back down.
Well, I am glad I’ve seen them today, these fiery pearls,
and I’ll not try one for taste. The bark of a passing raven
riding the cool and choppy autumn breeze
calls me back to my walk, and to its other claims and colours.

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