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This poem is taken from PN Review 125, Volume 25 Number 3, January - February 1999.

Topiary Michael Symmons Roberts

1. Laurel

When we cut the laurel bush its insects,
shaken from safe darkness, filled the evening
air with bites. Then we discovered its cache
of black-green berries, a secret ripening
behind dark leaved protecting arms.

By morning, someone had put up a shack
out of the heap of sweet bay branches;
woven in with willow and palm, myrtle and citron.

We had no idea what it was for,
so left it to its gradual dismantling.
And in those days before it dried and fell
children played house in it, we ate in it at night,
and noticed how more stars peered
through the thinning roof, as though a new creation
were beginning piece by piece.

After that our bricks and tiles felt weaker.
...


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