Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GARDENS, by KAREN SWENSON



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GARDENS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In my walled california patio
Last Line: Speaks on this bell's voice.
Subject(s): Gardens & Gardening; Marriage; Memory; Weddings; Husbands; Wives


In my walled California patio,
alien with unnameable blooms,
and Eastern houseplants enlarged
to Disney flowers,
a wind-bell flutters its cardboard tail,
chimes with itself on another coast
and, twenty years away, rings
from a Brooklyn court
where all the roots I dug are dead,
though I can name the blossoms of that time.

Like sooty leaves that search for light,
the marriage too gave puny blooms
as though it also lived within that garden
watered by the city's acid rains,
and through its time the chime rang gently,
not striking out the hours' measures,
but taking whatever city breeze
came by into the music of its mouth

to peal for the young husband who,
his life barred by bodies,
scrubs at stains of failure
and attempts to tune himself
with the shower's choir
for the young wife, barefoot
in the sun puddles
on the kitchen linoleum,
who fears her husband and her child
because she cannot comfort colic
or his failure.

These two long parted
and the child now grown
move silently within the sound
which on the wind's time
rings these gardens
east to west to east again,
as dead camellia blooms feed next year's buds
or the wind's silence
speaks on this bell's voice.





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