‘Portrait of the Poet as a Vase of Paper Flowers’ by Mark Burnhope

Portrait of the Poet as a Vase of Paper Flowers

Within seconds of being
inside that Oxonian book shop
he became a portrait: Poet
as a Vase of Paper Flowers,
Hydra with a discarded stanza
wrapped around each head-held-high,
not flailing, knowing her time

is nigh. Alas, he wasn’t privy
to the transformation
at the time — hidden behind
the textual foliage, arms crossed
like threads in a metaphysical conceit
(about Satan the Serpent, or summat,
coiled in the compartments of a bento).

But the camera
still clicked, the flower buds
still stood to attention
and their letters, words, lines
and forms bloomed
in the absence of even a bee,
among so many bookworms.

Mark Burnhope

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