He sowed the seeds not long ago,
Surrounding the tower, a moat of buds,
A sea of red: roses, lips, blood.
He fed them, watered them, raised them
As his own,
Watched them bloom,
Taught them to be tall and proud –
Tended, nourished, nurtured.
But then he chopped them back,
Pillaged each petal –
Pruned, sheared, raked –
The flowers cowered in his shadow,
The tall tower starving them of light,
Smaller, smaller, smaller still.
He looked down at their unstained petals,
His children, his subjects,
Each identical to the one before,
Shovel and trowel: power and fear,
Their beauty his to own.
Day after day, the gardener came
To fertilise his Garden of Eden.
They used their thorns against him,
But when he pricked his finger
He didn’t fall asleep.
An inch, a foot, growing taller
Until he gripped their tangled roots
And tugged them deeper into the soil,
Harvesting each ruby,
A home that never felt safe,
Forever trapped under his green thumb.
The sky became their glass case.
Night fell, silver stars winking at them,
Knots of stems, hand in hand,
A paperchain of girls,
Shoulder to shoulder, standing to attention.
An army of roses.
They chanted a song,
Made his tower quake,
The gardener on his knees,
Begging and begging,
But they couldn’t hear him.
All they heard was
Grow, grow, grow.