RISING TIDES, 20th Century American Women Poets

The Eyes of the Garden

We have come home here
to be revived by the balm of greenwood and grasses—
those gathering hours in the garden
where feet sink into black earth
and tomatoes are picked sun-warmed, and in the mouth
still warm, where zucchini hair prickles
when snapped from the vine
and the swelling bust of summer squash
are arranged in a basket with zinnias.

We come back to this wicker basket to be born again
from the warm potted smell of the greenhouse
into the pace of farmers.
Our days spread out like fields to be grazed
slowly in this August heat.
And yet we are still waiting. Expectation
is a thick honey on our skin.
It's something like the storm's approach
a tense green-violet
over the stillness of the water's teal.

We have come back to be cleansed from distance
from speed and the people we passed like mere items
in too many approaches and quick departures.
Relief lies like a wound at the bottom of the lake
where we cry beneath dark waves
for the ache of coming
and the ache
of going away again.

Still nourished by communion of summer
The long arms of cousins, the flush on a sister's face,
the hair of a brother, holding onto them for survival.
Back to the oldest woman
who has kept us together like memory.
And now to sit with her and hold her hand
while she diminishes, gazing.

Her skin is of the delicate pansy
her odor of fading roses.
But her eyes are delphinium, blue without reserve
so sure of her love, so clear against the slur of days.
And when she attaches them to us, we see the ache for living
in them, that her love is the strength
of shoots breaking ground, again and again.
And now we have come to watch the flower drop
so slowly from her hand
catching that jasmine star to continue.
And though she is quiet now
I know that her eyes are speaking
speaking with the voice of the whole garden.

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