Other than the gourd patch down in the orchard, one of the few bright spots in the garden at the moment is the uncontrollable oleander outside my study window. I say “uncontrollable” as it has been ruthlessly cut back a couple of times and tied back with twine, rope and clothes line and still manages to break free enough to block the driveway. At least this year it isn’t covered in black fly and other bugs.
Oleanders grow everywhere in Spain: they straggle all along the central divide of dual carriageways, around the edges of municipal car parks, from dusty patches of dry dirt outside traditional covered markets… they seem to be the go-to plant for local councils to use to stop soil erosion. But seeing how spindly they always are in public places, I never expected this one to grow quite so large.
Despite their ubiquity I seem only to have one poem with an oleander in. I posted it here a couple of years ago, but I have three excuses for posting it again: firstly, there are a lot more readers now who probably haven’t read it; secondly, I remember drafting it on a night train journey to Catalonia, a journey I hope to repeat this coming weekend; and thirdly, it’s one of the pieces in my book Around the Corner from Hope Street, which is shortly going to be available as ePub and iBook with illustrations from Lance Tooks.
The silent fanfare of the moon
scatters the clouds. Sodium globes loom
in oleander dark. Two pairs of footsteps
dodge round orange pools
on the corner
where kisses grow.
More information about Hope Street here soon, and also on the earlier DCTN post The Next Big Thing.
One final point about the oleander: I knew it was a poisonous plant, but I hadn’t realised just how bad it was. This news report describes it as one of the five most poisonous plants on the planet and says that since 2004 the adelfa has been on the list of plants whose sale is prohibited or restricted due to their toxicity. The guy in the shop didn’t tell me that when he sold it to me.