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Banner image by Glyn Lowe

I Pity the Garden

No one thinks of the flowers.
No one thinks of the fish.
No one wants to believe the garden is dying,
that its heart has swollen in the heat
of this sun, that its mind drains slowly
of its lush memories.

Our garden is forlorn.
It yawns waiting
for rain from a stray cloud
and our pond sits empty,
callow stars bite the dust
from atop tall trees
and from the pale home of the fish
comes the hack of coughing every night.

Our garden is forlorn.

Father says: My time is past
my time is past,
I've carried my burden
I'm done with my work.

He stays in his room from dawn to dusk
reads History of Histories or Ferdowsi's Epic of Kings.

Father says to Mother:
Damn every fish and every bird!
When I'm dead, what will it matter
if the garden lives or dies.
My pension
is all that counts.

Mother's life is a rolled out prayer rug.
She lives in terror of hell, always seeks
Sin's footprints in every corner,
imagines the garden sullied
by the sin of a wayward plant.

Mother is a sinner by nature. She prays
all day, then with her "consecrated" breath
blows on all the flowers, all the fish
and all over her own body.
She awaits the Promised One and
the forgiveness He is to bring.

My brother calls the garden a graveyard.
He laughs at the plight of the grass
and ruthlessly counts the corpses of the fish
rotting beneath the sick skin of shallow water.
My brother is addicted to philosophy
he sees the healing of the garden in its death.
Drunk, he beats his fists on doors and walls
says he is tired, pained and despondent.
He carries his despair everywhere,
just as he carries his birth certificate
diary, napkin, lighter and pen.

But his despair is so small
that each night it is lost
in crowded taverns.

My sister was a friend to flowers.
She would take her simple heart's words
—when Mother beat her—
to their kind and silent gathering
and sometimes she would treat the family
of fish to sunshine and cake crumbs.

She now lives on the other side of town
in her artificial home
and in the arms of her artificial husband
she makes natural children.
Each time she visits us, if her skirt is sullied
with the poverty of our garden
she bathes herself in perfume.
Every time she visits she is with child.

Our garden is forlorn
Our garden is forlorn

All day from behind the door
come sounds of cuts and tears
sounds of blasts.
Our neighbors plant bombs and machine guns,
instead of flowers, in their garden soil.
They cover their ponds, hiding bags of gunpowder.

The school children fill their backpacks
with tiny bombs.

Our garden is dizzy.

I fear the age that has lost its heart,
the idleness of so many hands
the alienation in so many faces.

I am like a schoolchild madly
in love with her geometry books.
I am forlorn
and imagine it is possible to take the garden to a hospital.
I imagine I imagine
And the garden's heart has swollen in the heat
of this sun, its mind slowly drains of its lush memories.