Ground Elder

Every year it’s the mother of battles
And I’ve still to win the war
Against ground elder.

This Saddam Hussein of weeds
Threatens to engulf my allotment plot
And invade all the neighbours.

A botanical weapon of mass destruction,
It secretes its suckers underground
And cleverly eludes inspections.

And every summer up it comes
Its glabrous stems like rocket launchers
With umbelliferous warheads.

I call a summit meeting of gardeners ’
Some say: stifle it under black polythene,
Others say: try flame throwers.

I prefer to plunge my fork
Into the weed’s nerve centres
And tear its tendrils out of the earth.

As I try to burn the green and rooty refuse
The smoke burns my eyes
Like a chemical gas.

Surely, I think, this time it’s done for.
But the terrorist will be back next year
And every year after that,
And the flowers of ground elder
Will dance on my grave.