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Drowning under flowers

Matt Gilbert

There’s an orange lifebuoy in the corner

of a field, a twenty-minute walk from where

I live, down a lane beside a station, a green corridor

of sorts, lined with ash saplings and brambles,

worn-wire, wind tossed shreds of once-used plastic

and wrinkled cans, eventually this sputters out, expelling

foot passengers onto the track that is the south circular

at Dulwich, cross this, between impatient 4x4s,

go into the park – Belair, once a private estate – head north,

almost to the fence and there, sometimes, in high summer,

you’ll see the strangest thing – this lifebuoy on a board,

perched at the lip of a lake of rampant vegetation, as if it’s

here to save people coming to drown beneath wild flowers,

lose themselves beneath the bedstraw, overcome at last by poppies

and the vetch, a suburban mythic, eerie conceit, half-attractive,

half-repulsive and near impossible to picture come November,

when this grey ditch is pooled with water, remains picked over

by tetchy, stick-legged crows, once yet another year has passed.

Matt Gilbert is a freelance copywriter, who also writes a blog at - mostly about place and books. He can also be found on twitter @richlyevocative. Originally from Bristol, England, he currently gets his fill of urban hills in South East London. He has had poems published by Anthropocene, Black Bough and Ink Sweat & Tears among others

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