One morning it’s all over.
Tomato vines nod vaguely
above their sticks. They never
thrive here: if it’s not early
blight it’s late blight, or shield-bug,
the fruit garish and nearly
good — a curate’s clutch of eggs.
Those knotted, speckled beans, brown
like an old man’s fingers. Dig
them all in. Dig in the corn,
that all summer shook and kept
its thin hands in its sleeves. Down
with them, the burst, purple-topped
carrots, the peas’ drunken row,
the blackened, small courgettes sapped
by a single, vast marrow:
the hopelessness of neglect.
What does a vegetable know?
Decay’s slow, indifferent fact,
the groundward pull that pulls you.
Oh, everything’s spoiled, wrecked,
the cabbage drilled through and through.
This is the slug’s rank kingdom.
This is the one thing that’s true.
Tim Upperton’s poetry and fiction have appeared in AGNI, Bravado, Dreamcatcher, Landfall, New Zealand Books, New Zealand Listener, North & South, Reconfigurations, Sport, Takahe, Turbine, and Best New Zealand Poems 2008. He is a former poetry editor for Bravado, and tutors creative writing, travel writing and New Zealand literature at Massey University, New Zealand. His first poetry collection, A House On Fire, was published by Steele-Roberts in 2009. (updated 7/2009)