Spring 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 2005 |

Gregor Mendel in the Garden

Black-robed on the green hillside, he seems less shape than space—Abbot Napp— a gap in a flock of April lambs. Then wind opens his wide sleeves and the flock scatters—his little ones, his progeny, bred, crossbred.   In this first morning light, I am turning the garden, kneeling and rising, my apron flapping its own dark wing. Such a daybreak of drops and ascensions!—winter on the pebble, sunlight on the nape, and the black soil swallowing   my pea seeds, like beads through a crow's gullet. With grace and patience, the abbot would cancel in his scattered lambs the parasites, the strucks and toxin shards that yearly fell them. But life's eluded him   and so he breeds for beauty: a triple crimp in wool, a certain glint in lanolin. And the spiral horn— that curling cornucopia—corrugated, green-cast, shaped, he says, by repetition's needs. (Not unlike your pea pods, Gregor.)   Beautiful, he tells me, those circling, dusty pleats. And if only he cou

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