Fern

This is where it runs:
the grubby unplugged water,
the dish dregs, the flushed rain
faeces and fat. Sulphite and soap scum,
pampering patchouli and pear blossom,
mirror-pooled
meat and bleach.

Down there,
flicked cigarette stumps,
a floated leaf, a stray straw.
A city’s Friday, its Tuesday,
its match day.
Its working week,
its inconvenient sludge.

But just below the iron grid
that is trampled, driven,
replicated over and over,
delicately feathered
as green frost on glass –
an unfurled fern, clinging,
stirring its flightless wings,
growing imperceptibly
into glare.

Its spored underside
is a hundred dragonflies’ eyes
that have known the shark-teeth
of caves, stone-stencilled hands,
charcoaled horse, unhinged jaw,
crown-shy thrones, meteor sky,
deeps of ice, puzzled spine

shadow of Argentavis magnificens:
the bird that thought it was a plane,
show us how to endure

Laura Wainwright is from Newport, Wales. Her poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in a range of magazines, journals and anthologies. She was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize poetry competition in 2013 and 2019, and awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s bursary in 2020 to finish writing her first poetry collection.

Twitter: @wainwrightlj