Plum Tree Among The Skyscrapers

by Simon Armitage

She’s travelled for years
through tangled forests
and formal gardens,
edged along hedgerows,
set up her stall
on tenanted farms
then moved on, restless,
empty handed sometimes,
sometimes with fruit
in her arms.
She’s hopscotched
through graveyards and parks,
settled down in allotments,
clung to a church roof
by a toe.
She’s pitched camp on verges
and hard shoulders,
stumbled on threadbare moors
above the tree-line
and slummed it on wasteland,
but dug in on steep hillsides
and rough ground.
She was Queen of the May
on a roundabout once
in a roundabout way.
She’s piggy-backed
across trading estates, hitched
in a mistle thrush beak,
drifted with thistledown.
She’s thumbed a lift into town.
Now here she is,
in a cracked slab
in a city square
in a square mile
mirrored by glass and steel,
dwarfed by money
and fancy talk.
Hand-me-down brush,
pre-loved broom,
to the paid-by-the-minute
suits and umbrellas
and lunchtime shoppers
she’s a poor Cinderella
rootling about
in a potting compost
of burger boxes
and popped poppers.
In that world,
orchard and orphan
are one and the same.
But she’s here to stay –
plum in the middle –
and today she’s fizzing
with light and colour,
outshining the smug sculptures
and blubbering fountains.
Scented and powdered
she’s staging
a one-tree show
with hi-viz blossoms
and lip-gloss petals;
she’ll season the pavements
and polished stones
with something like snow.

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