Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GARDEN AGAIN, by KAREN SWENSON

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THE GARDEN AGAIN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The romans, retreating from the wilderness
Last Line: A compost of leaves and wings.
Subject(s): Burma; Imperialism

The Romans retreating from the wilderness
of Britain four centuries after Christ,
left mosaic faces laced gray with lichens,
left their stones, dressed and ordered
as soldiers in the rain.

In downtown Rangoon,
a leftover edifice of empire
sprouts trees from its Victorian brick
while a mile away crowds swirl colors skirting
the gilded pinnacles of the Shwedagon Pagoda.
In the countryside,
the woven bamboo houses pour
dust-brown children from window and door
surrounding a church's brick fortress where
swifts skim through windows stained only by sunset.

At the end of sovereignty, just as the sea
gardens a wreck with coral and anemones,
the emptiness of empire fills up,
a compost of leaves and wings.

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