Tuesday, March 18, 2014


In this vast alphabet
   of  forms we wander
wondering which
  of our charges--ranging
  from camellia japonica
to araucaria--
  wants water,
if Japanese beetles
  attack the neurasthenic roses
   in our care
or pillage the plum,
if the hydrangeas
  on the hillside
wilt in the June heat,
or, conversely, in winter
  if the ornamental quinces
brought outside on a mild day
  must be wrapped for the night
when February turns frigid.

Never-the-less, despite
 the sometimes seemingly
  continual sense of emergency,
the rigid
  Linnaean nomenclature
  not to mention a clientele
rich in idiosyncrasy,
  some immune
  to the simplest instruction,
it is beauty
  the more touching
  for being transient,
perishable as a peony
   which seems to shed
  its petals as we watch,
which commands our attention,
  even our wear.

Spading the compost
 into  the clay
until the mixture
  resembles cake batter,
is required if the jasmine
  or gardenia will make a summer
   scent redolent of Eden
or Paradise-- first garden
  and the last.
  Is it  then to be inferred
that a stench
  is required to make perfume?
  So I suspect.
Certainly sweat
  is required, and skill,
also the patient
  calculation of effects
  though nature is fickle,
the weather unpredictable,
  and no reference work
seems to account
  for the anomaly
presented by an irate customer
  bearing a blackened branch.

Zigguruts of Babylon
 disappear, the topiaried
knot garden is converted
  into a bocce court
   after the revolution.
The symmetry of heaven
  (where all that is lost
  will be found)
is felt none-the-less
  in an idle moment
  on a hot afternoon
when the flower
 at which we stare
    looks back.


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