Magazine article The Spectator

Squaring the Circle

Magazine article The Spectator

Squaring the Circle

Article excerpt

These London Squares: green thoughts in a grey mind,

like ample zoo enclosures that help keep

the animals sane. In Queen Square between

Faber and the Homeopathic Hospital

you did a weekly stint at, your colleagues planted

a memorial magnolia sapling

I thought too waxy-pale and ceremonial

but we turned up to its launch, or berthing,

grateful to them, and I've kept a bespoke,

black-and-white photo of it in full leaf

in sight of my desk. I never had you down

as a fully-fledged tree-hugger but then,

once, quite out-of-character, in earnest,

you argued and argued with a neighbour

blithely sawing down his copper beech

as if you'd heard a cry come from the gash.

Despite the blue, ribbed, plastic pipe dug in

to mainline water to its roots, the magnolia

only flourished a year, then ailed and died. …

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