The genial squatters come,
a cavalcade of beige, pitching up
beside thickening woods.
Local girls walk their dogs,
hoping for a soft-haired Prince
and a week of flirting at the gates.
Ignition keys removed, these people
want the noises trees can offer:
each natural stir lost to them
in urban lives. They eat outdoors,
adjust to cold, walk for miles,
flora sticking to their muddy boots.
Then there’s night: the family
hunched inside, each van
a lit snail, stuck to dewy grass.
The first one came at school, urged on by a boy,
she ran into a competent spin, white triangle
at her groin his only point of focus. In youth,
her thighs remained toned, good enough
to be seen in parks, skirt hem teasing her chin,
air sharp at her hips. After marriage, she did it daily,
in the garden. Legs wide (not even spread that far
for the bearing of her boys) blood surging in her skull.
A neighbour mentioned it. His hushed confession
to a sighting amused her for days. Her husband continued
to thrill at limbs thrown skyward, her gymnast’s poise
on reaching the lawn’s edge. Their sons’ small heads peeking
above the sill, now their distant admiration from homes
of their own. Steady with retirement, they wash breakfast things
in peace, before he unties her apron, feels her loosen, lets her go.
is not its phallic weight
rolling in my palm or cacti prickle
to its skin. No, what I like
is its slicing. There’s none
of the meanness you get with carrots,
who, once peeled, ask you to push
too hard with the knife, are never sorry
for their unpredictable skips
across a kitchen surface. A courgette
surrenders to the pressure with
just the right amount of give
beneath the blade. Incisions can be slow,
decisive and whether it’s flimsy discs
you want, ready for a garlicky pan
or thicker coins to be nudged
next to aubergine, the courgette will relinquish
a steady stack of slices on the board.
It is the most certain of vegetables,
firm, undemanding, polite.