The Wishing Thorn: Spring Awakening in West London

IMAG3292The Wishing Thorn

Moody, muddy day under foot
Scudding clouds trailing dark tendrils
Of dirty mist, moist and mournful
Over this February afternoon
Scraggy daws and silly seagulls
A cacophony of scavengers
Lording it over this fallow field
Sadly shredded plastic bags and crumpled cans
Forlorn and loitering, typical blackthorn winter
Its darkness heralding incipient Spring
Skittish skirts of delicate blossom
Mark out an aisle down Wormwood Scrubs
The bride to be nervously giggling in the wings
Watching slow motion awakening
Of early catkins in the wind
And fur soft budding on bare branches
One by one the guests appear
Patiently waiting nature’s unfolding
And the wedding of life and death.

This poem was inspired by a walk on Wormwood Scrubs on February 23rd where splashs of white flowering bushes remind me that Spring is not far away.  A little research seems to indicate that the blossom is that of the blackthorn bush or coll

The Wishing Thorn is a deciduous, thorny shrub native to Britian. It is the ancestor of the cultivated plum and it’s blue-black berries are the sloes of sloe-gin. Typically it flowers March – April but flowerings have been sighted since January this year according to the wonderful Nature’s Calendar website

The blackthorn stem was used to make traditional Irish shillelaghs – walking stick weapons, magical and divining wands.  Symbolically it is considered a sign of life and death together as the flowers appear when the stems are bare and there is an old superstion that to bring blackthorn into the home was a harbringer of death.  The spell of bad weather that often coincides with blackthorn flowering is known as a ‘blackthorn winter’

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