Friday, April 30, 2010
The Ride: Misty Horses and Secret Gardens
And once I get into town where the college is located, I pass one of my favorite gardens.
Every once in a while when the weather is warm, the woman who owns the garden is outside weeding or watering her plants. I've longed to stop and ask her if I can look at the back gardens that I get only brief glimpses of as I glide by (I always slow down when I'm passing her house), but I don't want to scare her. I come by very early in the morning, and I know that sometimes when I see her, she's not yet out of her bathrobe. Someday, I'll stop and we'll talk gardening.
Her bearded irises are in bloom, lining the driveway with their dark purple heads glistening with the morning dew. Against the driveway side of the little house, deep purple clematis vines snake up white latticework. The clematis are fat and healthy, and I'm jealous of them because no matter how hard I try, I cannot grow them (I "settle" with my climbing roses). In the backyard, I can see more irises and splatches of other colors, but that little glimpse just sweetens my appetite for more.
Here's one of Rita Dove's poems, appropriately titled to fit this blog . . .
The Secret Garden by Rita Dove
I was ill, lying on my bed of old papers,
when you came with white rabbits in your arms;
and the doves scattered upwards, flying to mothers,
and the snails sighed under their baggage of stone . . .
Now your tongue grows like celery between us:
Because of our love-cries, cabbage darkens in its nest;
the cauliflower thinks of her pale, plump children
and turns greenish-white in a light like the ocean’s.
I was sick, fainting in the smell of teabags,
when you came with tomatoes, a good poetry.
I am being wooed. I am being conquered
by a cliff of limestone that leaves chalk on my breasts.
Rita Dove, “The Secret Garden” from Yellow House on the Corner (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1989). Copyright ©1989 by Rita Dove. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: Yellow House on the Corner (1989)