A Gathered Distance

Across the harbour’s fetch,
                                   a distance grows, a loveliness
Of limbs. By night the gardens are everything
A city’s not, a sleep it never takes, a dream of antique mornings

Run to seed. The gardens on the cove might
                                   almost be one’s other life,
A silence adumbrated, where wisdom takes its time
To grow, and all the many selves you are assemble in the dark

And in the morning resemble
                                 a coagulated distance where freedom
Holds, a love lost, a child found, a sadness almost bearable.
Another way. Upon beguiled sandstones, in swamps made almost good,

Other times and other natures
                        have put down roots and in a hundred languages
Refute the simpler thoughts our minds would rather think
About the nature of a place. The middle of the year

Blew in last night and talk of
                                  winter wandered up the coast
From the deep Antarctic south, and Saturday morning paints
An absence wide enough to welcome every thought

It cares to keep. From here I see a mythic plinth,
                                              a folly, proudly out of place, and far,
Like all of us, from home; I see a palm, and hear the surf
It stood by; I see a mob of figs, ebullient and overweight,

Strangers swallowing their hosts,
                                   murderers become a forest on remand.
And I see hoop pines, those geomancers, slow-motion dancers,
Sadly out of step with trippy times like these,

Extending their courtly hands
                      to gather up the light, to catch the news
Feed, the current account of things, and from it piece together
A past. And in among the burnished canopies,

The noble green pavilions, where all
                         the elsewheres in the world make camp,
I see the swamp oaks rise like smooks,
The frail exhalations of four or five fires refusing even yet

To go out. The gardens make
                                    a thousand distances
A shapely thicket of repose. A stubborn stillness holds there,
A recursive gladness in which all sadness also inheres,

Leafs out and fruits the future
                                   as if it didn't give a damn.
And notwithstanding the savage rush of things, a simplicity holds
The hands of time a while here, remembers

And calls you child. Offers you
                                   stories and under the stories’ breath,
Leaves like archipelagos, flowers like feckless continents adrift,
And each day death forgets its dance steps and lives on another day.

How a garden hangs together—this one
                                   an instance, like the rest of us, of us all—is how
One might cohere and carry on. A garden is never
Finished, and nor are you: Become, I think, a garden again,

And never, like a garden, cease; find
                                      in every bed and nest, and step out along
Each pathway, and read in every leaf, more elliptical renderings, daily,
Of the oracle of your life: how to live it as you fathom it

By oving what is worthy of your love.
                                   Find in every episode
Of weather, in every sudden gladness a garden gives and takes,
In every child that comes, in every fallen feather of each itinerant

Bird; and find in the circular migration
                                  of the eels, in the invaginated flowering
Of the fig, in the stubborn insistence of things,
In beauty’s refusal not to be—find a way to continue

To thrive, to flourish even, if you can,
                                   regardless, to set seed, even when hope
Has lost its flight feathers, and strangeness
Has swallowed the way your life ran, and your days

Have run off sideways and become a week
                                  of showers. Be a garden in a city,
And be all the love you’ve lost. From all the unpropitious
Pieces tending toward a self, cultivate a solitude, harvest half

A life and make it whole. Gather all your distances, and
                                            father all your orphan fears; hold them
Near, as a father might, his children scattered now,
If only he could. Husband all the futures up from out of all the pasts.

And make a garden
                        of every sorrow you never will
Outgrow. Plant every single thing you never really understood,
And watch it become a tree, and stand under it, and know why.

 

 

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