Spring 1998 • Vol. XX No. 2 Poetry |

The Gardens Offered in Place of My Mother’s Dying

We emptied the books of songs into rich soil, and all the prophets' names, in honor of the gardener. Evenings we studied catalogs and maps, sketched out parterres, beds, lawns, savannahs, windbreaks, chose as the guardian stone the flowering fire. No garden need have walls, but we latticed the perimeters. We planted broom, mock orange, yew, holly, boxwoods—islands for the ancestors—grouped them, let some stand alone. We imported, improvised, circled our feet with painted pebbles. When the angle of the sun was right and moisture laden, the very air exaggerated aerial perspectives, the light itself a pilgrimage to all the years we'd been away that blew full and breathed like wildflowers down the hillsides brilliant with news, the throngs advancing. O the whiter the light, the more we planted. Everything grew then, everything flowered.We nearly tired of singing inside such mortal clanging, such festering, bell-ringing green that we began to dream of mile

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