Sun on the Garden

Adam naming the animals of the world, from the Peterborough Bestiary (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 53, f. 195v, 14th Century)

After years of benign neglect, I’ve been spending time and money in the nurseries and garden tool departments of the hardware store. And I find that working in the garden feels satisfying solid in comparison to the airier pursuits of art.

Sun on the Garden

The part that makes poetry has lain sleeping, and now
(after COVID again) tumbleweeds blow through my brain.
So instead, I dig and plant and water and mulch and weed,
thinking of nothing much under the late spring sun, except
how the names of flora make their own kind of poetry:
lobelia and marigold, shrub rose and geranium, salvia.

That would make Adam the first poet, I suppose, sitting
in the Garden of Eden naming all the animals: “Platypus, 
I shall call you platypus.” — and all the others, an arkful
of the newly named for Noah to salvage from the flood.
I name them to myself as they come to check my work:
robin, rabbit, chipmunk, butterfly, black fly and whitetail.

This is the power of word. To name it is to see it, to bring
its smell to the nose, just as the mind mimes each story
even as it’s told, or as we twitch and mutter to dreams.
So small the difference between word and world, a thing
thin as the skin that separates me from thee, a mere tissue.
Yet call it what you will, flesh in fact is fact, and word is air.

I wave the hose head back and forth like a magic wand or
a maestro’s baton, calling up water from below the bedrock.
But one only tends a garden, encouraging life. The maestro
creates no symphony, no matter how dramatically he waves.
The flowers know what powers the upthrust of their lives.
They turn its way each day as it tracks across the skies.

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1 Response to Sun on the Garden

  1. Ronald Lee Hagelund says:

    One of my personal favorites Dale!! Splendid-need accompanying photo of virgin/neophyte garden to make it truly sing even if not symphony surely a series of songs!!…make it so number one cheers

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