The poems—Thomas and Housman and Neruda—
lapsed into tourism when I first saw you,
as tall and foreign as the name,
on Ruttenscheider Strase.

Imagine impossibilities,
convicts of the imagination—
the statue of a sneeze,
a hiccup, a fall, a word escaped,
the mind unable to hold it back,
like the earth pulls back the grass.
Fleeting, floating, like a yawn.
Your life, only as long as a clap,
in a world where everything’s long,
as long as struggle.

The mumble of shy pink,
the loyalty of softness,
of petals pretending to be strong,
as strong as a vow.
The hamlet of pale flags,
the glance of toothy flowers.
A collective of spring winks.

I remember the voltage—
the lifespan of a blink.

But that is not what I saw.

When I saw you, I saw Time.
Time, our primitive invention.
I’d been counting wrong all my life.
You stood there,
Time bruising your flowers.
You stood there,
keeping time in colour, like aging hair.
I still remember you ten years later,
standing, flickering like impulse,
breathing brevity, skeletons of coral air.

Sumana Roy is the author of How I Became a Tree (2017), Missing: A Novel (2018), Out of Syllabus: Poems (2019), My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories (2019), and V.I.P.—Very Important Plant (2022). She teaches at Ashoka University in Haryana, India.

From “free” to “friend”…

Established in 1911 as the Bulletin of Popular Information, Arnoldia has long been a definitive forum for conversations about temperate woody plants and their landscapes. In 2022, we rolled out a new vision for the magazine as a vigorous forum for tales of plant exploration, behind-the-scenes glimpses of botanical research, and deep dives into the history of gardens, landscapes, and science. The new Arnoldia includes poetry, visual art, and literary essays, following the human imagination wherever it entangles with trees.

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