Always buddleia. As if you could demolish
half a city and leave butterflies, a wasteland
painted purple. A child’s plastic seat, bright
pink among the scrub. And a harvest:
rose hips, blackberries, first fruits of destruction.
They banked the earth up at the roadside, bits
of gardens mashed together. Look, brassica
survived. Here’s borage. A woman grew that once.
Three houses huddle, the outer two tinned up,
steel shutters draped with England flags. Here
is the man who would not move. Everything
around is flattened. Defiance looks like this.
Defiance looks like this, too: a park
emerging from a sodden triangle of grass.
Kids playing where folk warned them to keep clear
of the pub they called the Blood Tub.
Two rows of silver birches. Yarnbombed,
bunting stretched between them, wildflowers under.
Drummers, singers, laughter. This town
nearly died. Today they’re planting trees.
Julian Dobson lives in Sheffield. This poem was inspired by an event in Birkenhead. More of Julian’s poems can be seen online at his website where he shares a poem each week.