Volume 29, Number 4

The Garden of the Universe

And on Earth, the garden of the universe, some walked with ivory birds on their shoulders,
and some pierced the breasts of scarlet birds to show who was boss,
and some stretched and inhaled the scent of morning jasmine,
and some stepped over the sweet stench of rotting flesh, 
and some wore veils and whispered their daily prayers under peach trees, and some flung off their veils and raised their fists,
and some marched and shouted at those who wouldn’t march and shout with them,
and some swatted the bees whose drones interrupted their dreams, and some manufactured golden apples in the test tubes of white laboratories,
and some built cars that could turn the blossoms of the garden
into a blur, 
and some cursed the bleating of sheep and some cursed the keening of coyotes,
and some slept in towers that pricked the stars, and some slept on warm sands that conformed
to the curves of their spines, and some leapt from cliffs and tried to fly,
and some never looked another creature in the eye, 
and some swooned at the sound of a voice on the radio; 
and some shaved their hair and some braided their hair and some painted their hands and some powdered their wigs;
and some wove armor out of shards of bone and dried grass,
and some danced on ponds of glass, 
and some made laws that said ‘No Music,’ 
and some made sculptures they tucked under ferns, 
and some murmured poems beneath the brooks, 
and some made signs that spelled their own names in electric lights;
and some kissed for the joy of kissing and some kissed out of curiosity and some kissed because their lips were cold and some kissed to keep the kissees from speaking;
and some picked all the pears and stored them behind secret doors,
and some scooped up all the salmon, 
and some shared the last olive with a distant cousin, 
and some climbed sequoias and proclaimed themselves monarchs, and some loved the monarchs like a mother, and some bowed to the monarchs then mocked them when the monarchs were out of earshot, and some monarchs learned how to stoke fires and some monarchs learned 
how to grow flowers;
and some of their subjects warned that the garden would surely die
if everyone didn’t bless it with warm tears, 
and some threw stones at those who issued warnings, 
and some lay awake at night listening 
for their instructions in the silence, 
and some offered arias to empty skies, 
and some drew plans for ships that could carry them
to a planet where they could start a new garden, 
and we all took our first icy breaths on Earth, the garden of the universe;
and we all trembled at the thought of death, even when we believed
it was just a story that was sure to end happily.

first published in The Poeming Pigeon: Poems from the Garden

—Linda Ferguson