|GARDEN IN THE WOODS
No trim suburban lawn is this,
Where water carves a precipice
Through forests older than the gleam
Of ice diminished to a stream.
No pergola, no garden wall —
No realm of Flora, not at all —
Yet scyllas tell of starry souls
Where the ground blooms with cellar-holes.
When April comes, the Hyades
Mourn brothers slain in woods like these,
And let candescent tresses down
To fall like water from a crown.
The catamount, the ancient snake
Who drank the currents of the lake
Are phantoms, and their phantom tears
Refresh dry April’s battle-spears.
Spring azures wander as I wend
To see the daffodils ascend
Where I had walked the parchment fall
Of maples made a roofless hall.
I set the coffers of the shoot
Within the windings of a root
Where blooms the lemon crinoline
In folds that claim the woods as mine.
Cold flowers show where they were killed —
Young men with passions unfulfilled:
Blood-purple saffron, and the blue
Hyacinth, where the discus flew
At fatal beauty. Where he’d look
Till death, Narcissus paints the brook,
And bindweed withers high above
King Crocus, too late with her love!
Sky-seeking star-eye, lapis-hued:
The scylla, speaking fortitude
On mornings when the wind may bite
With frost of spider’s deathly white.
Wide open in the rain, they drink
Their fill of cold and pain, to sink
As garlands for the forest floor,
Like Ariadne’s Bacchus wore.
Into the sun I go at last,
Trailing the garlands of the past
Through gardens where you bowed your head —
“Be queen of flowers,” as you said.
You knelt in seedlings you had thinned:
My Zephyr, God of the West Wind,
And showed how sunlight’s gentle course
Does what the wind can’t do by force.
The countless colors sprung from seeds!
Wind-scattered, like a string of beads
On soil where — silver as a bell —
The wellspring overflows the well;
And in the orchard’s tapestry,
Ripe grapes that crown an apple tree
Whose charity is doubly blessed
Wherever fledglings fill a nest.
At dawn you brushed me with your wing
On still blue mornings, where we’d cling,
And when I touched your smooth warm cheek,
My mouth spilled roses when I’d speak.
Who could refuse sweet oranges
And honey, from a man who says:
“Why envy Venus, Jove, and Mars —
Life is Earth’s dowry, not a star’s.”
How great a paragon is he
Whose nymph becomes a deity!
While some turn divas into dolls,
You built a villa without walls:
A place for neither grave nor goods,
A garden planted in the woods,
Where singing birds must bear the dawn,
Now that your shielding wings have gone!
In garden’s grove, you set a pearl:
A statue of a windblown girl
With billowed skirts, and hands that fail
To bind her tresses in a gale.
She smiles to watch the roses try
To climb an arbor, rainbow high,
For where the trees are frail and thin,
How soon the forest closes in.
© 2021 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved. No
part of this
be copied or used in any way without written
permission from the author.