Some images I can return to when I close my eyes. One is the scene in “Spring (The Garden)” by Thomas Wilmer Dewing. When I visit Crystal Bridges, I love to stand in front of this piece and listen. But physical presence isn’t required for me to have this vision. “In the garden without trees” in the latest Moon City Review springs from this painting.
“The coreopsis is crushed in an oval where the deer must have slept” appears in the latest issue of Colorado Review. I usually have to submit a poem many places before it is accepted for publication. This was one of those rare times when it found the right space on the first try.
Two poems that appear in the latest volume of Denver Quarterly continue what has become this week’s theme: work that originates with my youngest daughter. While “I have taken my daughter to the garden” uses free verse with slant rhymes, and “In the closets in the daytime, there are horses” uses two octaves with a quatrain, both poems turn around apples.
“Witch Hollow Road” — a ragged sonnet — returns to the apple orchards of southern Illinois to explore our garden of origin in Heron Tree.
My children are trying to find their way in the world. A while ago I wrote about this in a guest blog post for Superstition Review. It hasn’t gotten easier since then. As a child, I thought adults had the answers, that if I could just be good enough, aware enough, I would earn the key. It doesn’t work that way. Honestly, I’m not sure how it works, and as I watch my children’s lives buffeted by adults around them who are struggling with their own demons, I become desperate to protect them. And that is one of my demons, I know.
So it seems fitting now to have four poems – “Coronation,” “Recall,” “Subduction Zone,” “The Gates” – in the latest issue of Superstition Review. Each works with the archetype of the garden. Living in a neighborhood named Gardens Gate leads to those kinds of reflections.
We never left the garden. We consume it; we try to control it; we set it on fire because everything hasn’t gone the way we wanted.
But we weren’t cast out. We do that, to ourselves and to each other. Yet we’re still here, and we can choose another way.
In the latest Louisiana Literature, “At the East of the Garden” and “From this coal smoke, they move the orchids” explore the garden in the heartland where I was born and raised.