Gardeners


When all the flowers have gone from the world
Maybe it will stop screaming like it is now.
Here is where it will all end, my lovely;
Here, on this bed with a white handmade quilt,
The flowers will wilt as they did eventually
On my grandfather’s grave in the village.
He did not age well, the old man,
He talked of a war torn country
Where a muted peace was all
That could be had.
He spoke of black and white newspapers
Sitting in front of a color television,
American action movies on the screen
As Nixon denied his memory’s genocide.
He died slowly, the old man,
As time went by he forgot everything,
The war, the friends he lost,
The sons he kept safe in his arms
Were forgotten too,
What must be forgotten
That has forgotten you.

I wanted to take his old walking stick,
The one he started using the day
He stopped going to the bazaar,
The day he stopped wearing trousers
And started wearing that easy piece of cloth
That became integral to who he was,
That clean shaved face grew a white
Mask, kept clean by my grandmother
And mother as they took turns
Feeding him his gruel.
I wanted to take that stick
And break something.
If the world was a glass window
I would be a looting riot.
I would break it into shards
And watch them catching light
Lying on the dead of the asphalt
As if they were stars in the night.

When the children played no more
In the yard in their clean clothes
And the women had stopped wailing,
When all the noise had died down,
I sat at the edge of an old bathtub
In a hotel room far, far away
Cleaning up my bleeding hand,
I have punched every mirror
In this house, I have punched
Them into worlds imagining
The faces of people arguing
Where to bury, what to bury,
Who to bury, who gets what,
And not who to leave alone;
Fifty years a man preached flowers
And all he would get is stone.

When summer comes again
I will be twenty nine,
But I don’t have time again, my love,
I don’t have time to smell
All the roses dying in the world.
I’ve been too busy weeding out my father’s,
And his father’s fading garden of dreams.
It seems like such a long time since I last sang
My own lonesome song.
It has been too long, lovely,
And now even if the flowers cease to grow,
I will have vines and creepers to show
When they blow their trumpets up on high.

What must be alive, my love
For everything else to die?

Art: “Corona Australis”

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