New verse by London writer Fleur Adcock.
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?
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