Daily Archives: August 29, 2015

Tribute to Horseradish


I got a muddy cutting, a little piece of root
to bury in the garden and tamp down with my boot
I watered it and waited for a tiny shoot of green
to tell me that my dahlia would eventually be seen
when the cotyledon broke the soil and quickly turned to leaf
my immediate reaction was one of disbelief
I scratched my head and wondered “well, what do we have here?
I don’t think it’s a dahia. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear”

horticultural surprises don’t often bother me
and I hoped that this new plant may be my cup of tea
the leaves were growing rapidly and I didn’t recognise
the shape of them, the quantity, the speediness or size
until an allotment running friend who was veggie foody faddish
was summoned for advice and she said it was horseradish
she gave me little info but some useful recipes
for what to do with horseradish in lunches, dinners, teas

in sandwiches and mixed with egg, in tomato meals and more
she taught me everything I know of what horseradish is for
but she forgot to mention its greedy appetite
soon it stole each inch of soil, bite by chomping bite
it ate up all the space where the cosmos should have been
and soon my shining marigolds were nowhere to be seen
but I was living large in a kitchen of delight
cooking meals with horseradish, eating with all my might

now I was feeding friends and family by the score
and every passing cold-caller who knocked upon my door
I’d dug up all the roses, while my culinary cocoon
wrapped me in denial of the slowly ticking doom
and now I’m old and grey with a mono-culture space
that reaches far and wide and has won a deadly race
where once a town rose up with bounteous room for all
and cows and trees surrounded it; before I caused the fall

my horseradish plantation covers this pretty land
the only thing containing it is salty sea and sand
it’s eaten up the country and all who lived within,
and though I feel bereft and I know it is a sin
now I write this tribute because there’s nothing else to say
about my lonely little world and the way I live today
It’s time that I curled up in my world of verdant green
I’ll let my plants devour me and forget I’ve ever been.

My son jokingly suggested I write a tribute to horseradish. Maybe he should have kept his ideas to himself!

©Jane Paterson Basil