When I had grappled for hours with ground elder,

trefoil, umbel-flowered, its stem touched crimson,

its roots multiplied beyond measure;

when tendrils of wisteria I had seen

tentative at morning in a single day

leapt a void of air, conniving, stubborn;

when I had seen the bruised carnal profligacy

of shattered wine-and-cream sofa-colored petals

arrayed around the stem of the peony;

when I had also known the mortal smells

of sweat and sweetness cradled by the fig

daylong in its green shade and blunt dactyls,

then I turned to where you listened to Christ Lag

in Todesbanden, the shadows at your eyes,

across your lap a bright crocheted rug,

and knew by what the garden would outlast us.

By karl kirchwey