A poem for my plum tree

You arrive looking slightly sick,
A stick holds up your spine,
‘you’ll be fine’
I mutter
You’re sticking out of a small
plastic pot of soil,
dried flakes of manure
‘I’m going to look after you’
I say, picking up your leaves,
They curl in my palm
like a fortune fish.
They feel rough,
as if a nail brush has scrubbed at the surface,
to purge them of all green.

I run to the sink, fill a cup of water
and pour it on you
I expect you to groan, mutter words of appreciation,
stretch out your branches and unclench your leaves
But you don’t .
You don’t move.

I flee to Homebase and
scour the aisles
I find a compost rich in minerals,
Healthy fruit tree growth its packet gloats,
I flop it over my shoulder and march to the till
And tightly grip a terracotta pot in the other hand,
‘New tree?’ Asks a grey haired, squinty eyed man.
‘Yes’ I say, rolling my eyes
I pretend I’m despairing over lover or baby
His grin is lopsided ‘What kind?’
‘Lovely. Just wait for him to fruit’

I will, I think, I will.
White lights and angels chorus in my head,
With you offering sweet purple fruits to all.

I go home and bury your roots in black manure,
knead you down into your new pot,
You’re my newborn,
in your new cot.

Tomorrow will bring you life.

I wake and find a different fate,
You’ve got worse,
Your stalk is blind drunk,
falling around the pot.
Your leaves are defeated
hanging shrivelled heads.

I can’t understand.

I parade you around in the sun’s glow and water you but
You continue to brown.

I search the internet for cures,
enter chat forum
Horticulturists in every area code
‘HELP, I am losing my tree’
I type speedily
‘What are the buds looking like?’
Giftedgardener responds.
Buds. Hmm. Buds. Hmm.

I run to study you
You don’t have any buds
You never had any

Only then do I realise,
You were always going to wilt.
I was never going to be able to save you.
‘How can I save you when you’re already gone?’
I ask.
You don’t respond.