Green Thumb, by Clara-Laeila Laudette

My mother likes to make things multiply:
plants sprout from every corner of the flat,
the rakish cactus brought from Tesco
now a giantess with three offspring.
The sweet potato, speared through either rib

and suspended in a jar of greening water
purled with long white shoots, Mum
turned into a vine and trailed
along the kitchen counter.

I see her plump, deft hand
with its small pointed nails
and the scar zipping round the annular
whose last joint she nearly lost
to spilled tea and a deckchair’s snap.

(Flattened beneath Mum’s nail there’s a slim piece
of surgical thread, its squat blue bacillus
in the amber of her body
remembering the wound.)

But her surgeries don’t always work, and there
is, in this making and breaking of
this splitting and pricking of life,
something her science sometimes misses: see

the shrivelling pods of the teardrop plant
she spliced along the middle
to feed two smaller pots
and set upon the window ledge—

they gaze at each other forlornly
bound in a slow
and quiet wane.


Published 27th of January 2024


About Clara-Laeila Laudette

Clara-Laeila Laudette is a Paris-born, London-based writer/journalist. After reading English at the University of Oxford, she studied Arabic in Palestine. She’s worked chiefly in media, most recently as a Reuters correspondent. Clara-Laeila Laudette writes in English, French, Spanish and a bit of Arabic, and is studying towards an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths. Her poems were shortlisted for the Oxford Poetry Prize 2023 and are forthcoming in Oxford Poetry magazine. She has previously been published in the Cherwell literary supplement and No Bindings.