MINT TEA IS NO CURE
The art trail enlivens proceedings by inviting
poets to read in artists’ garden, where bees
work for pollen on lavender and valerian.
I choose a few poems that may chime
with the work of potters, painters,
printmakers and jewellers, but
this year I’ve not shaken off winter’s grip
and my chest is a squeezebox with loosed ties,
tumbling to the floor from careless hands.
Discordant and groaning I’ve wheezed my way
through weeks of heat, so find some quiet shade
away from the studio and watch bees
working for pollen on lavender and valerian,
but it’s hopeless, I can barely give breath
to one whole line let alone the next.
A friend offers to read every alternate stanza
for me to catch my breath, or try,
and we manage like this, but every muscle
of my ribs pulls. My lungs are more folded back
than when I began, and the fresh-picked
mint tea offered by the host is no cure –
I can barely stop straining long enough to drink it
as bees work for pollen on lavender and valerian.
Kate Noakes’ Two Rivers Press collection from 2009 is The Wall-Menders. Her most recent is The Filthy Quiet (Parthian, 2019). She lives in London, where she acts as a trustee to writer development organisation, Spread the Word.