McGredy’s Roses 1972
by Glen Wilson
They keen to me when I tickle
the silk chin of their petals,
I have painted these strains,
recognise the family colours,
cross-pollination, my years, my father’s,
grandfathers and great-grandfathers.
I have learned so much raising the flowers
of Portadown, this nursery also my nursery,
it has taught me that blooms follow
fallow seasons, to trust in rebirth.
I was quick to know how to work round
the thorns that guard the stem, outgrowths
of a fallen Eden, sickle-shaped hooks
I’ve found only add to the attraction
of this panchromatic swathe before me.
Whether they are called Irish Beauty
or Elizabeth of Glamis matters only
on printed cards for show,
beauty is beauty regardless of name,
next to them the hybrid tea Violet Carson
stretch out to me as if they know I am leaving,
taking my children and theirs far away.
New Zealand calls, Dunedin, Christchurch
exchanged for Belfast, Dublin,
new markets I can reach
easier than from Mid-Ulster, the air
here poisoned by a war of colours
that will kill all colours. I need to go,
go where beauty is not a luxury,
where you don’t have to be wary
when you kneel to enjoy the fragrance
of Gallicanae, Synstylae or an Arthur Bell,
for we all go, all spread out, the good soil
runs through all our fingers.