Espaliered tree

You, in the Cloisters Garden

            Hellebore, periwinkle, dame’s rocket, foxglove, clary, ox-eye daisy, acanthus, flag, you have sun and rain in full measure.  You worship sky day and night, sun, stars, moon, cloud, clarity.  Surrounded by columns, pathways, walls, you withstand all elements visited upon you.
            But you are held in place, sacred place though it is, prisoner without escape, others deciding your future.  Dozens of baby Christs are carved into Virgins’ arms in nearby chapels.  In the hallway, the unicorn is trapped in tapestry.  A room contains fallen statues that have become coffin lids.  An altar displays the carved heads of women—reliquaries—holding the brains of a saint.  Wood is roughened and colored to become plague sore.  Christ after Christ hangs crucified, spear wound open and bleeding.
            Against such torment, you thrust yourselves from the earth, unafraid of the saint who pins the devil to the ground, his staff gulleting that foul mouth.  Here, you are like the mercies carved under the penitent’s seat, their grotesque faces laughing, lips puckered and irreverent.  You leaf like the Green Man himself—stalk, bud and bloom.
            They meditate at the sight of your beauty, though your beauty serves you best to attract bees and butterflies, birds and bugs, all with purpose, with openness.  And when you eventually fall to the earth, as they to their knees, you are not symbol, you are earth itself, ever and ever, with no amen.  You—nasturtium, geranium, phlox—be as you were in the begonia, as you are forever, salvia, seed without end.  Be the miracle you are, that you would be, were no human soul to interrupt you, plant you, cloister you.

"You, in the Cloisters Garden" first appeared in Soundings East







Gingko leaf

Crumpled newsprint



Green man face

Church pew


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