I re-watched the 1978 version of The Invasion of the Body-snatchers last night and was much taken by this brief dialogue:
Elizabeth Driscoll: I have seen these flowers all over. They are growing like parasites on other plants all of a sudden. Where are they coming from?
Nancy Bellicec: Outer space?
Jack Bellicec: What are you talking about? A space flower?
Nancy Bellicec: Well why not a space flower? Why do we always expect metal ships?
Jack Bellicec: I’ve NEVER expected metal ships.
The exchange – and perhaps the film – is improved by the presence of a very young and smooth-faced Jeff Goldblum in the role of Jack Bellicec.
I know there were pods in the earlier version of the film, but do I wonder whether the focus on flowers here is due to it being a product of its time: there were still plenty of flared jeans and long hair around in 1978 and some of us still believed in flower power.
Nancy Bellicec was right, of course. Why do we always expect UFOs to be metal ships?
Each year at this time we are invaded by life forces and life forms that, to a great extent, remain a mystery to us. However much we begin to understand the science and the processes behind them, I don’t think we can really claim to know where they come from. Even so, I, for one, welcome them.
I could just end this post there, but I’ve mentioned before that I have so many poems now that I can probably find one for every occasion. It seems appropriate to include this one here, although it’s clearly set in the wrong season and, indeed, the wrong country. It was published in South Bank Poetry Magazine back in summer 2009.
Today I walked beside the river,
away from town, past the straggle
of pink and yellow houses that infringe
all urbanistic planning schemes.
I counted four se vende signs strung
on twelve assorted fences, plus two
so weather-faded as to be illegible.
From twelve over-sized gardens, nine
over-sized guard dogs barked at me.
On the dirt road I saw a copper frog
no bigger than the orb-spinner
whose web I break unceremoniously
each morning when I swing wide
the iron gate that separates
the orchard from the sheep track.
Unkempt tomatoes sprawled, blushing,
alongside tattered undergrowth.
In one untended vegetable plot,
a dozen body-snatcher pumpkins
basked in the early sun.