Last Tuesday, close under a dank cloud roof
an old Briggs and Stratton given to flooding
choked through mile-a-minute weed, shattercane,
Johnson, stilt and cheatgrass and tangles
of fescue, clover, jimsonweed and thistle.
This was a salvation project,
a stand for a miniature paradise, a bowered Eden
left fenceless by a dead pair of lovers.
Hollyhock and glads had been coaxed onto staves,
and flourished with azalea, clematis, phlox and covers
of impatiens, how they survived the Janus snows.
Protect the garden, under siege, in disarray.
Two revolutions ago in August evening
she reposed in a lounge settee, a chardonnay
perched and misted fine, cold and gold pale
against the close night in the perfect floration
of that garden, nursed to prelapsarian bloom
for the gardener's fading rose.
Their voices lay soft on the evening, sotto voce,
of children and grandchildren, little charming notions
of school clothes and weekend preparations,
symbolic mundanities, anodyne.
It wasn't long. The gardener smoked
on the lounge, in the last bloom,
hesychast now and summer incense solitude
last August, "they have no wine."
There's been a column in dad's news
of his next door neighbor's simple departure.
He was to be scattered, dust and ashes,
in the rose garden, where they used to walk,
uneducated, hand-in-hand, unpolished,
but simple enough to love the roses
and grow them in a small Eden
and repose in the evening.
Protect the garden.
-- written on the occasion of hearing of my bishop's illness.