Each branch extols,
Raises up its prayer and praise
In thorny criss crossed arcs
Unto the God of light,
It has no doubts and grows
Towards its certainty of summer
Banking on the old equation:
Tropism brings synthesis.
And yet unto the human eye
The scribbled tangles magnify
The fault within each specimen:
Aesthetically they fail to satisfy.
In competition with themselves
They cannot dignify
Their greed by growing carefully
But needs must cause
The gradual death of other parts
Below, or near by.
And so we take our secateurs
And punish, finding human ways
To justify the need always to intervene.
And tell ourselves our methods bring renewal:
We cut short prayer
And cut out hope
Remove the dead
And branches growing inwards,
Remove the stems now brown and bare
Restrain them as they ramble.
And open up to bright, white air
The mess of thorns which scramble
And so we spend each afternoon
In cutting out and knowing soon
The spring, predicted in the tips
Supplied with auxin, raised, outstretched,
Will bring rewards of breaking buds
And shades of red and soft, dark pink
Of blooms, then scarlet hips.
Yet something happens to the mind
In seeking balance and improvement
Opening up to wind and movement,
Thinning out, discarding,
Believing we rejuvenate,
Imposing our ideas of what is pleasing.
We stand well back and concentrate
And see what 'must' be done,
And then we find
We might do more
And so we carry on.
But when at last we have retired
To make the tea and light the fire,
Our brains it seems have grown 'hard-wired'
To pruning and we have acquired
A dreadful, crazy, mad desire
To view all things as we viewed rose:
The finials first and then the lips
Of daughters, pursed,
The chandeliers hanging low,
The shutters' knobs, the silly bows
In gilt atop the mirrors,
The skinny jean-clad jutting hips,
The large and lumpy, crooked nose,
And then the fingers and the toes
All must succumb, despite the tears.
In order to be kind one must be cruel;
For everyone must surely know
That careful pruning brings renewal.