Whenever we argue,
I bring my ugliness to the garden.
But this time when my spade slices the compost
a dark stone comes out with it, moving
as if a peat-man came to life after centuries in a bog.
As if Pygmalion hadn’t made a human but a frog.
Under the soil, you’re smooth, flexing, eyes like onyx pips.
I came here angry with another, but have almost severed you.
Your throat shines but you are frightened into silence.
Why am I surprised to find you breathing?
Have I disturbed not only frog but some unlikely feeling?
Spade held out; I carry you away
past onion-globes, delphinium and fern
hanging apples and a bank of thorns
to where the pond shines, patrolled by dragon-fly.
But you won’t leave me, longing to return to earthy dark.
You won’t let go, though enemy I am.
You love me so.
If this were a folk-tale, I would kiss you
on your down-turned mouth
and you would be a person again.
Instead, you slip into the water,
washed back to being green
as the surrounding fields and fading leaves
and I am left to twist the weeds,
to spread the compost,
to remain as me.
ABI CURTIS is Professor of Creative Writing at York St John University. She has received Eric Gregory and Somerset Maugham Awards for her poetry. Her latest novel is Water & Glass (Cloud Lodge). She is the editor of Blood & Cord: Writers on Early Parenthood (Emma Press, 2023).