A Rebellion

An elegy for my first husband, Jonathan Wordsworth. The setting is St Catherine's College, Oxford.

A Rebellion

A Rebellion
in memory of JFW

He admired the long, low lines,
the rectangular, end-stopped blocks
running exactly parallel with the spaces

and broken only in the middle, with nothing
to interrupt the eye’s steady passage
from opening to opening.

It was all urbanity and cool abstraction –
a Scandinavian utopia of vast skies,
clear vanishing-points, clean edges.

But none of this satisfied.

Was it mischief, or simply a longing
that made him plant seeds

so that, over the years,
the roots worked their way

As the rectangles loosened,
they lost their neat alignments,
and a softness came

in waves
and climbing, arching green.

Self-seeding, proliferating,
a thicket of unruly buddleias
sported their plumes near his window –

attracting, in August,
peacocks, red admirals, tortoiseshells,
fritillaries, and (once in a while)

a small white.