The Head of a Dandelion

Alice Oswald

This is the dandelion with its thousand faculties

like an old woman taken by the neck
and shaken to pieces.

This is the dust-flower flitting away.

This is the flower of amnesia.
It has opened its head to the wind,
all havoc and weakness,

as if a wooden man should stroll through fire…

In this unequal trial, one thing
controls the invisible violence of the air,

the other gets smashed and will not give in.

One thing flexes its tail causing widespread devastation,
it takes hold of the trees, it blows their failings out of them,
it throws in sideways, it flashes the river upriver;

the other thing gives up its skin and bones,
goes up in smoke, lets go of its ashes…

and this is the flower of no property,
this is the wind-bitten dandelion
worn away to its one recalcitrant element

like when Osiris
blows his scales and weighs the soul with a feather.

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