I can’t say that the day smiled on us, or that anything smiled,
As we dared the wet earth in our wet digging clothes.
The late Mrs. Cockburn was in no mood to chat. It was she,
After all, who was being evicted by a cruel remote-control:
A letter sent from Toronto that saw the summer spoilt.
She had just published a good book, her autobiography
That kept her friends straight and her enemies crooked,
But as if the world needed to show a woman of quality
What indifference meant, or how landlords could still be shit,
The letter was not an offer for film rights but a notice to quit.
We approached the bed of agapanthi in a deathly quiet.
What I thought was umbellatus and a big mistake
For the small place where she was headed was, as a matter
Of fact and not any other kind of insufferable organic fact,
A huge clump of the smaller orientalis, sometimes called
Agapanthus mooreanus, and perfect, as I should have
Known. I knew that Mrs. Consuela White was up in Lismore
And would soon be on the phone to me. Mrs. Cockburn
Also knew that, though they were old friends, Mrs White’s chilling
Remarks, her wicked shaudenfreude, could kill African lilies.