Gary Whitehead

(Pawtucket Rhode Island)

The Garden - Poem by Gary Whitehead

In the garden of the mind the best thought
will never bloom as beautifully as this
lily, lemon-yellow and freckled red,

four tongues lolling out of a single mouth
and speaking the dead language of silence.
We each take a different path: you into

the fountainous splash of asparagus;
me toward the cosmos bouncing like paper
stars in the breeze. Marriages are like this:

raveled by proximities, recited
in the vernacular of habit schooled
with the patience of bees. We hum our way

through the years, recollecting sometimes
the days when our hands and mouths, grafted
for the first time to another's, flowered

what we thought must be a whole new species.
Rooted in the tilled beds of youth, exotic,
those revelations sprang in us full-bloom.

Then, with practice, we came to realize
that planting the garden was just practice,
that our tongues and fingers, grown familiar

in the light of this world, were made to tend.
And that if desire for the original,
the virginal, slithers sometimes beneath

the leaf, it is cold-blooded, warms itself
in the promise of what's still possible,
then leaves. We meet at the end of rows—

me back from the cosmic, you from what feeds—
and find with chamberless ease the rhythm
of wingbeats between the ribs of our hands.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 6, 2012

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