On Planting Potatoes at Easter

by Robin Kidson

All winter, I’ve nursed the seed potatoes.
I’ve chitted them and tricked their green fuses
To break out into anaemic, triffid shoots,
Probing for the promise of light and summer.
Now it’s Easter, ambiguous Easter:
Time to halt the fooling about, and plant.
 
Sow, seed, sperm, sex, egg, birth, shoots, spring, begin.
 
I rub out the weakest shoots: a thumb swish
Extinguishes possibilities,
Roads not taken, gates never opened.
I gouge a bloodless trench into the earthskin,
And lay my seed potatoes to rest there
In sepulchres of rotted excrement.
 
Cross, pain, sacrifice, death, tomb, decay, end.
 
At an Easter long ago, a people sowed
Their corrupted seed, and paid the price
In blight and famine, death and flight.
The survivors and the stayers chitted
Their shoots of grievance until they found
The fertile soil of another Easter.
 
In a city with green hills far away,
Guns shoot, possibilities are denied,
But others are freed to grow towards the light.
Like your man said, this is terrible beauty –
Which would be a good name for a potato.
 
So, I write the varieties in a verse:
Pentland Javelin, Belle de Fontenay,
Ulster Chieftain, Duke of York, Desiree,
Yukon Gold, Kerrs Pink, Arran Victory,
Harmony, Wilja, Terrible Beauty.