Jean Bleakney


Taken on its own, the fickle doorbell

has no particular score to settle

(a reluctant clapper? an ill-at-ease dome?)

were it not part of a whole syndrome:

the stubborn gate; flaking paint; cotoneaster

camouflaging the house-number.

Which is not to say the occupant

doesn’t have (to hand) lubricant,

secateurs, paint-scraper, an up-to-date

shade-card known by heart.

It’s all part of the same deferral

that leaves hanging baskets vulnerable;

although, according to a botanist,

for most plants, short-term wilt

is really a protective mechanism.

But surely every biological system

has its limits? There’s no going back

for egg-white once it’s hit the fat.

Yet some people seem determined to stretch, to redefine

those limits. Why are they so inclined?