Ballade of the Botanist

For Sister Rosemary Johnson, R.S.M.
And a river went out of the place of pleasure to water paradise.—Gn 2:10
Adam…could not have inferred from the fluidity and transparency of water that it would suffocate him….—Hume
 
The botany that blessed Mendel’s pisum—
Has petals come to thorns, and bliss, regret—
Our parents feet found Heraclitian streams
In Eden’s river, but their seeded rot
Despoiled its promised acres—this, despite
A course of graces flowing to present
Our arid minds a thought to irrigate:
We walked in gardens once—and that’s the point.
 
Perhaps our view at large accords with Hume’s—
No seed effects its fruit except to set
Starvation’s stage—the blossoming of dooms
Which man must brave alone, an oak offset
Against a desert’s thirst no rain could whet,
And only slick sidewinders’ tongues anoint
While whispering mankind’s weed-choked kismet:
“You walked in gardens once—isn’t that the point?”
 
But bury deep such philosophic dreams
And keep in mind that we were once well met
By sacred nomenclature’s nobler blooms—
Salvation’s scent replaced by Adam’s sweat
And thorns supplanting beauty’s own rosette—
We bled the color out of Eden, bent
Its stems and broke its limbs—and all for what?
We walked in gardens once. Is that the point?
 
O Prince of patch and plot, who can delete
The damage done? The everything we can’t
Repair, your greener thumb lets cultivate.
You walked in gardens once—and that’s the point.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Pope Francis leads a meeting with young people in Palermo, Sicily, Sept. 15. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Even after revelations about sexual abuse in the church, 79 percent of U.S. Catholics—but only 53 percent of all Americans—hold a favorable view of Pope Francis, according to a Gallup poll.
Michael J. O’LoughlinSeptember 18, 2018
When “American Vandal” debuted on Netflix last year, it seemed to be positioning itself as the raucous send-up of the true crime genre. In Season Two, there is a much sharper edge to this new premise.
Jim McDermottSeptember 17, 2018
Knowing that the future of the church will largely be in the hands of Latinos, it is paramount that Catholic schools help form them in the faith and help them become our future leaders.
The EditorsSeptember 17, 2018
Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, speaks at a news conference officially launching the center in February 2015. Also pictured is Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Hans Zollner, S.J., a member on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, shares his hopes for the church as a crisis that never ceases to shock and sorrow continues.
Jim McDermottSeptember 17, 2018