By Bernie Bell
Driving out on Sunday – seeing the big poppies flowering along the road-sides as they do every year – summer is a comin’ in…
‘Big Poppy’ by Ted Hughes
Hot-eyed Mafia Queen!
At the trim garden’s edge
She sways towards August.
A Bumble Bee
Clambers into her drunken, fractured goblet –
Up the royal carpet of down-hung,
Shrivel-edged, unhinged petal, her first-about-to-fall.
He’s in there as she sways. He utters thin
Sizzling bleats of difficult enjoyment.
Her carnival paper skirts, luminous near-orange,
Embrace him helplessly.
Already her dark pod is cooking its drug.
Every breath imperils her. Her crucible
Is falling apart with its own fierceness.
A fly, cool, rests on the flame-fringe.
Soon she’ll throw off her skirts
Withering into vestal afterlife,
Her maternal nectars into her own
Coffin – (cradle of her offspring).
Then we shall say:
She wore herself in her hair, in her day,
And we could see nothing but her huge flop of petal,
Her big, lewd, bold eye, in its sooty lashes,
And that stripped, athletic leg, hairy
In a fling of abandon – ‘