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Lay for the Day
28th April

The first day of Floralia, the Romans' spring festival for Flora, the goddess of the whole blooming world. For the feast, the city and its people were decked with flowers. Hares and goats were set loose in the streets. The centre of the six days’ celebration was the first of May – in which point Romans and their enemies the Celts were in harmony, presumably because of some more ancient common heritage.


I have forgotten the earth
and when I walk away
dwindling in your perspective
I dwindle also within myself
almost to nothing
as though turning to dust,
and coming back I won’t get bigger.
You won’t see me then returning
or say, he forgot something.
Inwardly I will have dwindled away
and you won’t see me.

Only grant me to say,
almost to nothing, almost forgotten
and I shall be blessed dust, not cursed
dwindling to humility.
Only grant me like the earth
to nourish in my smallest parts, inwardly,
like the earth putting out its weeds
under the sun and the smoke of humanity;
putting the ragwort forth,
the rosebay willowherb from gravel;
from slabs the bitter-milked dandelion
and in grime the pineapple-scented mayweed;
the nettle, the elder and bramble on dumps
and the medallion-leaved mallow in unlikely places.

Like the earth,
thinking nothing of itself,
grant the vagrant seed may go unregarded
and the crooked tenacious weed
to stand up on its pale feet
and swell its unappealing
or appealing flower,
an emblem of the sun,
as common as these prayers are.


John Gibbens
from Makings ’84-’88


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar

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