New Poem

After Osip Mandelshtam

for Julia


I am the gardener and I am the flower.
For this prisoner it's dark day and night
in the world's dungeon: I do not cower

before the scaffold, much less the grim tower
at dawn. My eyes are bright, my mind is right –
I am the gardener, and I am the flower.

The guardroom bell tolls the bitter half hour
to begin each day and close black night
in the world's dungeon. I do not cower

though I have little strength, and little power.
The garden my joy, in its quiet light.
I am the gardener and I am the flower.

I till this yard's soil: it needs no plougher.
It's its defence, and the defender's insight –
in the world's dungeon I do not cower.

I'm not alone – neither rain, neither shower –
whatever weather, whether dull or bright,
I am the gardener and I am the flower;
in the world's dungeon, I do not cower.

17 October 2013
(c) HA Hodge
Scarborough