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.

Advertisement

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.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
More: Poetry

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Pope Francis speaks from the Vatican as he addresses Canadian youths in a video message that was included in a Salt and Light Television program on Oct. 22 (CNS photo/courtesy Holy See Press Office).
“The world, the church, are in need of courageous young people, who are not cowed in the face of difficulties," the pope said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 23, 2017
Men walk near destroyed buildings as thousands of Somalis gathered to pray at the site of the country's deadliest attack and to mourn hundreds of victims at the site of the attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 20. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Mogadishu was rocked to its core on Oct. 14 by a truck bombing that left 358 dead and hundreds wounded. The missing are still being sifted for among the scorched rubble.
Kevin ClarkeOctober 23, 2017
Pope Francis issues public correction to Cardinal Robert Sarah on who has final say over liturgical translations.
Gerard O'ConnellOctober 22, 2017
It is astonishing to think that God would choose to enter the world this way: as a fragile newborn who could not even hold up his own head without help.
Ginny Kubitz MoyerOctober 20, 2017