Horse Chestnut 1 – A Coupling

P.S.      As Horse-chestnuts have male flowers 

when a man comes into his flowering season 


& hermaphrodite flowers I have wished to examine 

with petals soft and tender as breasts, open to bare 


their pollen, 

his seed 


& this has made me observe 

& this has made me 


a thing which has surprised me.—All the flowers 

an entreaty, flowering labiatae 


now open on my several trees 

now open and in profusion 


are male with rudimentary pistil 

are female too, rude and raw 


with pollen shedding: so that I began  to think 

how dishevelled I was, how 


my memory had deceived  me 

into enamour 


& that the pistil was never well developed; 

& that the pestle was a well, deep and enveloped 


but on opening 

as I opened, my eyes like  


buds near the end of each little lateral twig 

sticky, overt, receptive 


of the flower truss, I find 

a cluster & 


plenty of hermaphrodite flowers with pistils 

in abundance, asphodels, forever pulsing, pert yet 


well developed. So, that on all my trees 

these trees, my roots, these roots attest 


there had been a gigantic crop of quite useless 

ideas. & O, how intoxicating the air, as 


male flowers, with millions of pollen-grains wasted, 

open, as the male, he flowers, swollen and unsated 


for there is not a female flower nearly open.— 

For there is not a female or a flower to open. 

from Seasonal Disturbances (Carcanet, 2017), © Karen McCarthy Woolf 2017, used by permission of the author and publisher.

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