Couch grass – poem for dVerse

Our pale roots
tangling through
the dark soil

knotting and knarling
like a child’s
wild hair

we metastasise
our thick roots

plump, white,
in every crack

in every cranny
we push our
fat fingers


food water warmth
we seek, we seek,

pluck us
we break
we grow again

mocking mocking

our pale roots
our green shoots

clumping spreading

we will starve
the garden
with our pale greed

Kim is hosting at dVerse tonight. She asks us to look at contrasting, yet companion poems by Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. You might say I’ve followed Hughes – I used to live just over the hill from Heptonstall, and now I’m just up the road from Dartmoor – but I’ve chosen to echo Plath’s poem. You can connect to the original through Kim’s dVerse post, and find lots of other poets there.

Couch grass is a vile and evil thing that mocks the gardener pitilessly with it’s sickening root system. If you leave even a millimetre in the soil it will regrow, and it’s incredibly friable. I hate the stuff. If you’ve ever tried to garden in England, you’ll know it.

16 thoughts on “Couch grass – poem for dVerse

  1. That sounds like the kind of grass that’s here. You cannot kill it! It’s good for a lawn, horrible for a garden. The cicada and Japanese beetle like the roots, but then you have the moles destroying your lawn hunting the grubs. My favorite stanza:
    mocking mocking”


  2. This could be an allegory for humanity—people as couch grass. I don’t know whether we have this one, there’s so much grass it’s hard to say. What I hate though is sedge. Fine around a lake but not where you’re trying to get flowers to grow. Can’t even pull it up, you have to dig out each clump.

    Heptonstall gave me the creeps.


  3. I thought I heard Hughes here, then read your note — those invasive fingers cracking wide the skull for nutritive yolk within — greed of life which defies the human garden. Who are we to boundary it?


  4. Couch grass is one I’d forgotten about, Sarah, so I’m glad you reminded me with your amazing poem. I love the contrast of the pale roots and the dark soil, and the way they knot and knarl ‘like a child’s wild hair’. The personification is so sinister, especially:
    ‘in every cranny
    we push our
    fat fingers’
    ‘we seek, we seek,


  5. Couch grass is new to me, but I had something similar in a flower bed at my previous home, which I fought for 20 years!! It found its way from one bed to another via a crack in the sidewalk!


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