The Lettuce

Maurice Riordan

I gave the barrow-girl two quid for it,
a frisée lettuce, a wild intricate wheel,
nature’s very own bright-green mandala.
A lot of money but I paid up gladly,
even though at that time, anxious and overtired,
I parted most weeks from something: my bike
hitched to a loose strut; then gloves, umbrella,
wallet, cards, glasses – all left on the train.
I came to think of it as tribute: a mean,
but bearable, percentage exacted by
my personal Luck-god, who’d bring us through
that winter, and the next. So I paid up,
grateful to reach my own front door,
to enter a house at peace and register
that palpable all’s well, before I swopped
briefcase and shopping for two small bodies,
I rebuke him now only for that one green
Mediterranean thing departing from me,
days before Christmas, for the Kent coast.