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Maidenhair

It exploded from my mother’s cutting—
migrainous flare
skirting the green edge of morning,

a moat of unending motion
crowdsurfing the air.
Its invasion was incremental—

first a cluster, spade-cut
from my grandmother’s garden
ferried home after the funeral

in our canary-yellow Holden
and buried in a rubble of shadow
between fiddle-leaf and flax.

Then the creep—sprigs
patrolling the pavers,
a quick prickle of stems.

After rain, sudden detonation:
black bamboo stakes
flounced with shavings of lettuce,

jostling with jurassic spears
of birds-of-paradise,
that pterodactylic splay of flames.

Between breaths
you could hear each leaf
twitching. Cuttles and quills

in paisley formation,
undersides pimpled
with permanent gooseflesh.

Today, twenty years late,
I find it in the garden, still
practising its one idea to exhaustion—

shivering leaflets
moving in anxious jubilation,
pockets of eternal thicket,

while I tipple on the edge
of the uncurling present,
watching my life harden into its one shape

the way my grandmother
smoothed her hair each morning
into a standing wave.

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