bittersweet dreams

nightshade plant with red berries

Whatever did we do before we had cameras on our phones? How did we hang on to the marvellous images we happened upon on our way to the shops?

Perhaps if I’d had a proper camera with me, I might have taken more care over framing and focus and produced a slightly better image of this nightshade plant. But at least the phone was able to capture an idea of the glorious juxtaposition of colours.

nightshade plant with red berries

I’m not sure which nightshade it is, although I know it’s not the same as the one I wrote about a few months ago in the post Identification and limitation. Perhaps it’s a Solanum dulcamara, the woody or bittersweet nightshade.

That second name was unfamiliar to me, but has made me think of the forbidden words of poetry: surely “bittersweet” should be among them? After searching through my files, I’m marginally relieved that I only seem to have one poem where I’ve used it:


          I watch black beetles dart while choirs
of skylarks glorify the dawn and shreds
          of mist braid chimney-stacks and spires
                    in yellowing frills.

          I’ve walked the sheeptracks of your dreams
in search of unicorns, but they have fled.
          Now they graze where honey flows in streams
                    through pillowing hills.

          The cropgrass scratches soulbear feet,
and each blade wounds. Too much is left unsaid:
          I choke on words made bittersweet
                    from swallowing pills.

That doesn’t seem to have much to do with the nightshade I started with – unless perhaps the berries are not just poisonous but hallucinogenic. As compensation for the lack of relevance, here’s a unicorn:

unicorn statue

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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