The Orchid

by David Van-Cauter

The end of term,
a long, dry spell.
Someone gave you an orchid with seven flowers.

On the mantelpiece,
each pink head seemed to loll its tongue,
its mouth wide open,

holding its breath,
clinging to the stalk
that drooped to the left.

We fed the orchid, watered it,
and then the good news came.
The image showed us nothing more

than a tiny dot,
but you kept it by your bed,
kissed it at night.

We encased our secret,
spent those hot days
trying not to spill,

every day
another notch
on the strained barometer.

A hosepipe ban,
and the garden was crying
long, dry tears.

It took six weeks
for the first flower head to fall
and the rain to come:

the garden spread out like a swan,
its wings drinking the air.