Going solo at Kew

I went to view the gardens at Kew
– without you – though we’d never seen it together
not in February, on a fine frigid day with the blues
thrusting through sky, and ice, and glasshouse
hard as board, the earth underfoot, frost topped
with a dry as bone crunch of lingering leaves
and trees everywhere, looming from mist and sun patches
like roughened sculptures from a land of giants

Crocus drifts already tufting the grass in mauve
most likely they are there too, all along
the Oak walk that surrenders the view at the bend
in the Thames – but I could not revisit it alone
a turn to lakeside, blonde reeds stiff and unruffled
in muddy melt margins, waterbirds tread disconsolately
their fitful clamour fracturing the floe

Hothouses are most beguiling now
tender water-lilies though are over wintering;
theirs a closed mausoleum of mangled roots
and in that other worldly Palm House
an odorous reception, visual astonishments
a muggy jumbled jungle of exotica, all lush and lackadaisical
under the protective, heated, dripping, canopy
greens dazzle in alien saturations, and the wider London landscape
nostalgic for our own exuberant summer hue

Inside or out you’d have wrestled for breath
frigid air eviscerating lung linings
the suffocating thickness of vaporous tropics
but there in the Temperate House we could have lingered long
a warm bright just right place of clement, curbed displays
moderate in-betweeny zones without a hint of winter
– if only you had seen this phoenix of a Victorian wonder
rise from its own glass and iron magnificence

ii

Light stopped play!
back to the pavilion, we’d say, ‘The Cricketer’s’
overseeing Kew Green, hoary this late afternoon
a small vacant table by the bar, two encircling chairs
I slip into one, sip some sweet Douro wine
fortified yet not enough to vanquish vacancy
and the silent discussion of this day out
we did not share

For Visitors:
Kew Gardens – Temperate House

Adjusting to being solo and revisting some favourite places before my move, as I link up with all the lovelies at Poetry Pantry

26 comments

  1. Going solo, especially to places one visited as a couple, is not an easy exercise. Grace to all who attempt it. Grace and peace.

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  2. Oh, I feel the sadness in these words. So hard to see places one once saw as a couple when one is solo. You captured the feelings, the essence of each place you knew as a couple, and the vacancy within! Powerful depiction.

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  3. It is hard to go places without our dear ones. I felt i was there with you. I hope your move goes well, Laura – one more big change to adjust too. We humans are brave, arent we?

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    1. To be there with me – just what I aimed for Sherry – a sort of walkabout poem
      p.s. we humans have to be brave else this world ‘doth make cowards of us all’ – as the Bard said – in a different context

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  4. I suspect, though it’s painful, writing brings you comfort. You are brave, as we all must be, when huge changes and loss come up in life. You’ll be fine. I can tell.

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  5. This is beyond beautiful, and is raw and palpable in its journey of carrying the heart through February. I could picture every scene and feel every emotion as I read and walked with you. It’s not easy to visit a place we once went to with our loved ones. Sending you light, love and strength. My prayers are with you always. ❤️

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  6. Oh, this took me back about 28 years, Laura! I used to take my daughter to Kew Gardens regularly when we lived in Twickenham. I love how you brought it back to me, especially in the lines
    ‘Crocus drifts already tufting the grass in mauve
    most likely they are there too, all along
    the Oak walk that surrenders the view at the bend
    in the Thames…’
    and
    ‘…in that other worldly Palm House
    an odorous reception, visual astonishments
    a muggy jumbled jungle of exotica, all lush and lackadaisical
    under the protective, heated, dripping, canopy’.

    Like

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