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This poem is taken from PN Review 230, Volume 42 Number 6, July - August 2016.

With and Without Nicolas Jacobs
1. Magnolia

From fruit to flower, they can take thirty years; 
by the time you have learnt how best they germinate –
the scarlet seeds sown soon as ripe, left out
to face, unprotected, the winter’s worst
and break, unexpectedly, in spring – it may be
too late: who, after all, has those years left
to watch? This, jib as one may, I tell myself,

is where one is: no more than a spectator,
whose efforts and long patience can claim no part
in the trees with the smooth grey branches, just
beginning to crust with lichen, as each twig
erupts into goblets, into flexible stars
blushed pink, flushed purple, seagull-white against
the slaty lour or blue of the April sky:

spectator, above all, on those serene days

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