The Bud-Shell


Under the rain, a newly unfurled poppy   
stoops, already drenched.       
Down in the tangle of weeds below
lie two curved sepals,
fallen segments of the empty bud-shell,
each one satin-lined, pale silver-green.

They couched the petals when the bud was closed,
tight-knitted at the seams; a calyx
locked around the brightness of the folded silk.
Now beneath the pummeling of rain
the red‑sailed parachute is bruised,       
its shell discarded in two broken scoops;
two small coracles,
filling with rainwater, derelict
on the river of grasses.
I lift up one lost boat,       
and carry it – listing on my palm – inside the house,   
lay it on my desk among the paper-drifts.       
I touch the softening bristles,       
slip my fingertip       
inside the thinning spoon.        
I cannot stop its diminishing,       
can only honour how well‑made it is,
how it held on tight        
until the bud burst open.



Christine Whittemore