after Louise Glück
In your absence, the bougainvillea grows unruly, spills
over the retaining wall’s prim ledge in a riot of burgundy.
The orchard’s lemon and tangerine are dusty floor lamps
whose empty sockets bear neither bulb nor light.
And a single dandelion is the lawn’s white flag, waving
surrender to the coming onslaught, obliterating any last
green idea I might have had of myself as gardener
or even keeper of a yard. From the window, I watch
the symphony in white weave its gauzy spell above rank grass
and your words return in all their sharpness. Idle hands,
the devil’s workshop, the early worm. I might observe
that the garden toad in the hour’s penitential dew is content
to brood like a stone until the sun kicks him to the shade.
Or that the winding brown snail arrives at his destination at last.
Except I know better. Come back and teach me to deadhead
the crane flowers that shrivel and brown. This garden
you abandoned me to is a bad dream I can’t wake from, where,
instead of the red hibiscus, the leaf blight multiplies and blooms.
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