On Assembling and Disassembling a Greenhouse


We bought it second-hand, in pieces –
spent hours twirling aluminium struts and spars
perplexed, like useless majorettes.

Then each span fell into place, an arc of ribs
rose up. Hung in mail of misty panes,
its lungs inflated with muggy air.

The membrane glanced the afternoon sun.
It was, we saw, the last of its kind –
desultory creature, adrift among vines,

its hide tattooed by cobweb, guano, snail-spit.
Yet how content it seemed to lose its sight
by degrees to knot-weed, dust, allowing other,

lesser lives to penetrate its own.
Flies bobbed in its vacant head,
brambles pressed shoots between its scales.

Now we, who are not so inclined
to settle in this greening place,
have filleted flesh of heat and glass

from these bones, left the carcass standing,
skinless, clean and awful as a museum exhibit.
It shivers, whistles, on a patch of cleared ground.



David Clarke