Pensees de Jardin

                                                                                                               For John Mueller
It appears that what is central to philosophy is its least valuable part.
– Wallace Stevens


I broke into morning like a thief in the night,
The damp smell of dew on flowers and coffee grounds
At work in the rot at the base of a rose bush,
Pervading like a fog, a scented cushion against
The hard and early push of hours. What drama to the clouds!
What philosophy amid unbending garden blooms!
It was enough to wish surrender still possible…

Yet my life was too total with possibility; I had not
Yet thought of growing old, yet here I was growing old.
I wished for nothing but what the morning offered
To flesh possessed by warm porcelain and water.
Yet, here I was, clean and full of the chase for faith.
The buffers of ambivalence placed against belief
Dissolving into songs of nostalgia. It was no use.
The nature of things was in a white heat of revolt.
Making discoveries in potting shed and chicken coop,
I secretly harbored a deep planting of fantasies
And spread my fingers in the soiled world, my search
For minerals, the first fruits and principles of life.

My dearly departed, as I look back, the mirror holds
In its shards indecipherable writing. Fathers see
Something familiar, something tugging on their blood,
When they look upon their offspring, children, a son.
But then with such sad knowing they look away.
It’s too deep for the eye, too close for the heart to take.
For us beasts, so ready to exchange our skeletons
With dust, gifts are a horror, so full of grave matter.

I peeled myself from sleep and slipped outside, my mind
A sack empty of seed or booty. Only hunger remained.
The sky was the same and the earth was the same
And nothing came between them but God’s newly acquired
Existence. (His alleged escape had been a mundane stunt.
His history a word no longer spoken. The world blared
Above it anyway, drowning prophetic pretence
With the same hurly-burly want and get
Which enraptured my life, haunted as a city,
Analyzing faith beyond repair.) So insect life resurrects
A hope; the whirr of wings, the incisive dryness
Of the cicada’s tune. I place a blade of grass in my palm
And sunlight nibbles its porridge of inches and minutes
On the cooling edge of the horizon’s bowl. I am here,
Not because there’s proportion to love or justice to
The changing light of the sun’s daily climb; I am here
To balance the fresh novelty of pear blossoms
With the agony of dew hanging from a leaf, a stem,
A spider web. So new, this experience, I call it, in a word,


  1. Jonathan Potter says

    This is fantastic, JOB. Moo-eee so. I see myself in that broken mirror. And do I discern a connection with your musings on the present tense of the lyrical over in the comments section of John Desmond’s post? So many tremendous lines and images and of-the-moment interior monologish thoughts.

    I balk at the grammar of these two lines, however: “To flesh submerged in warm porcelain and water” (surely not submerged in the porcelain?) and “The nature of things were in a white heat of revolt.” (was?) — first draft carelessness or intentional linguistic cavorting?

  2. Jonathan,

    Thanks for the read. I actually wrote this before the comments for Professor Desmond’s posting, but my mind was bent to the question, for sure, as a result of the poem.

    At the same time, it is a question that keeps coming back – or I keep coming back to.

    As for the glaring gaffs: the first I intended – wanting the porcelain and water to be of a piece. I see it doesn’t work, though, you’re right.

    The second was sheer and utter carelessness.

    Both have been fixed to reader and writer’s satisfaction.


  3. Churchill says

    You wrote that?

    • Ms. C.,

      I did indeed. Is the question asked in disgust or delight, though, I wonder.

      But at any rate, thanks for reading. Really.


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