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Nature’s Grenade

9 July 2005

Nature’s Grenade

Candida Clark

Before we drove back to London ­
It was evening, late June, Dorset ­
We walked through the valley
Where breath came rising from seas
Of tall grass and the bracken grew curling
In licks like flames ­ we had to fight through;
A soft fight; the flames were waves ­
To get to a far point, bang in the thick of it,
Where, by the stream, there was a place to stop.
The bracken stayed rising, birds were in the high trees.
The night before, there had been a night-jar,
And we’d sat on a log to listen.

We found the spot, and you bent to pick up something
That seemed to have been cast off. You put it in my palm
Before I could see it. I shut my eyes.
It was the precise shape of a hand-grenade,
The weight not far off, the texture almost true;
Cold, too, and sticky as though held too long
Through nerves, or indecision, before being chucked ­
At just the right moment to cause maximum creation:
Nature’s grenade; a cedar cone. They take three years to make.
The thing is on my desk right now.
It's my favourite gift from you ­
The sap oozing, the scent rising, the life waiting.

Today, wishing myself back beneath that tree,
I read how Solomon, building the temple,
Asked Hiram, King of Tyre,
For Cedars from the forests of Lebanon.
The wood transplanted, the motive went full circle -  ­
Religion running always after life.

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