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The Garden

ISSUE:  Winter 1982
It is an old story, older
than the sweet psychiatrists
with their 50-minute hours, older
than the beatific gardens and the
live oaks and palmetto fronds that sway
beside the salt marshes of Ossabaw,
older even than the stolen birthright
and blessings of Esau and the backward
glances of Orpheus and Lot’s wife, with
their lost loves and pillars of salt.

It is the story of the restlessness
of the soul inside the body, and of the
anger of the body at the soul’s infidelity.
It is the story of edifice and orifice,
of Orpheus and Eurydice, and of the sweet
completion we all yearn for and strive against
like moths whose deaths gleam
in the same light that saves them.

Now, I am once again living in the sweet
darkness of my own confusion, a man
who loves women and the parched earth
and his thirst for water. All that completes me
tears at the fragile seams of seeming calm.
All that offers warmth offers fire, and we
who slept together in the womb of another time
now wake as rivals in a sea without estuaries.

To make love to any woman, he said, is to
tamper with fate.
And if it’s true, perhaps
I have twisted the soft wings of destiny
to a place of no shape and no movement,
perhaps I have driven the sweet waters
from my own shore in search of treasure,
only to find the earth parched and my tongue
dry with a thirst for moisture and sanctity.

Mother and brother, sister, lover, husband,
daughter, infidel and father. The stage fills
with cast thrown into a play written for harlequins.
Out of a single torso, the Hydra-headed monster
rises and walks to the center of the stage,
and though we bury its immortal head beneath
a stone, though we sear the open necks
of its severed heads to clear the air,
they sprout again, leaving us calling out
into the crowd for some nephew to save us.

Now, there is a sleep and a mist, a sleep
and a mist and the love-lust of a strange
and bitter time. Only the wild dogs and
dream-icons remember what it was to love.
But there are a man and a woman, and they
want to love each other, but have fallen
into the deep reveries of the Hydra-headed
self. There is a dream that requires sleep
to find its meaining. There is a man and
there is a woman and their arms are locked
around each other in a deep sleep aimed at
finding who they were, at finding who they
will be, in the new garden from which so
many eat, and in which no one wants to plant.


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