Death Visits the Garden

There he is among the gradual ferns.
The coneflowers are a purple darkened
in the sky’s gray, and him nearby.
He is putting his whole hood
over the hyssop, lowering his bone nose
for the scent. Can you get the fragrance?
I ask and he says not enough.

We are familiars; we know each other.
He fits in among the livid daisies,
and nervous birds don’t mind that he putters
among the seed under the birdfeeder
fingering the milkweed, touching the basil,
raising that articulate hand bunched with green
to his skull again, inhaling.

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Oh I love this, he says, I love this,
folding basil leaves into his cloak.
Pick some weeds, I say. Make yourself useful.
Green violet plants stagger the grass.
Bees roll in serial clover.
From high limbs, birds insist on something.
I am useful, he argues, and in that wild moment
I saw his armies of bone buried in the field.

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