Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



The Difference Between a Palm and Me

Would it prefer to scurry out of the way of the wind that comes?
Is it annoying when the wind bends and shakes its curving fronds?
Or quite pleasant, perhaps? If it had a mouth to speak,
Would it shudder and moan? Or scream out at the bullying?
If it had hands, would it pen a protest letter, or scrawl a love letter?
Both would imply 'Something must be done about this...'

It has green fronds just like a frozen fountain, they're so green
In the Mediterranean sunlight with the blue sky behind them.
It has, let's count, fifteen of these fronds, maybe sixteen.
It's a very palmy palm. It is, indeed, the epitome of palms.
If there was a competition for palms it would win hands down.
Or so I think. And that's the difference between the palm and me.

But I'll run out of thinking. When all the electric pulses fade
And when all the connections are bare wires hanging loose,
All the paintings taken down and the furniture carted away,
The walls cracking and floors collapsing in a shower of debris,
The palm will still go on growing, pushing roots into the earth,
Pushing fronds into the sky. And there's another difference...

Yet there was a time, I think there must have been, when we
Also survived on sensation, reacting to the urging of genes
And the forces outside us, without thoughts coming between,
Sundering, cleaving, splitting us. Now we can no longer just be.
And when thoughts fail we find ourselves falling into an empty
Space, a void, like a descending meteor breaking up as it burns.

Looking up, I can see two yellow butterflies circling the sky.
They're like a couple doing a rock n' roll dance, whirling apart
Then flung together, twisting and jiving, and they look perfect
For each other and perfect as butterflies, perfect unbroken wings,
Full vivid colour, no feeling they'd rather not be a butterfly today.
They are flawless. Yellow butterflies. Green palm. And then, me.


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