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BooksFebruary 24, 2017

The Friday poem: ‘Blue stars’ by Fleur Adcock


New verse by London writer Fleur Adcock.


Blue stars



To qualify as a New Zealander

I’d have to turn against the agapanthus.

This wasn’t mentioned at the passport office,

but my New Zealand nationality

is a part-time thing – a bit of nostalgia.

Genuine applicants don’t need to be told.


They drive around in their cars, glaring

at parades of handsome blue stars on stalks

along even the remotest roadside verge,

more abundant than Wordsworth’s daffodils.

“Can you believe the size of these roots?” they

pant in their gardens, with spade and mattock.


A country that has no indigenous

wild flowers except those growing on trees

must submit to being colonised again

if it wants ground level decoration.

Too late to complain that you didn’t mean it;

that’s what they used to say about rabbits.


Yes, yes: not your fault; we know that. The seeds

get carried far and wide by car tyres.

I sit in whoever’s back seat cooing

at the floriferous, fluorescent

clusters of miniature sapphire trumpets

carried erect on their marching stems.


I never set eyes on one in my youth

until – when did I visit the Duggans?

But this is the age of garden escapes:

colourful incongruities flourish

incontinently wherever it’s mild,

like parrots escaped from an aviary.


Most are accepted – nobody minds

the odd wallflower – but these are villains:

the blue rosette is the booby prize.

Oh, and there’s a white variety too,

a luminous constellation of petals

in moon-colouring… All right; I’ll shut up.


Thank you all for your hospitality.

I’ll leave you battling against “those aggies”

and travel home on my other passport

to – guess what statuesque, architectural,

strap-leaved plants grown years ago from seed

in pots on my outside window-sills?


Keep going!