Exercise in Metaphor
Under the trashcan my rosemary lies, concealed to
endure bleeding hell in this intractable garden,
so far removed from your wild conception as a weed
for Aphrodite’s aromatic cloak, spun of the sky god’s seed,
living dew of that Attic sea from which the goddess rose
before Athens, white limbed and cold as fear.
You were her mantle of living warmth, austere.
You lived on sea spray and sun in the maritime dunes,
wild and free as the piping of Pan.
Your needles mimic tongues philosophers ran
standing where grey pillars capped words of gold
now debased and traded from your native land.
You eke out your life a commodity of man
in each fold of this foreign world that seeks your savor,
still giving your pale shy flowers to each rutting bee.
Here you’re made to stand against the burning dree
of American days, feet bound in clay unaccounted,
damped with calcareous tepid water shorn of salt.
When hard times come, I cage and darken you in a vault,
make you winter a cold that wracks your bluegreen bones.
Wind sucks them dry and bleeds you like a blade.
Still in death you give what’s asked from what you’ve made,
that undying and remembrance laden scent
that releases mnemonic prisoners from their cells.
But all’s forgotten now of what your fragrance tells;
how once you were the herb of bygone alchemists
boiled to bouillion in precise alembic wells;for sweet union men once begged those body-spells.
Your arms were crowns in countless high endeavors.
Even crushed in death your juniper lingers.
Tonight the front freights down with frozen fingers.
Blue express of oblivion, dark wailing wind.
Across millenniums still the sky god gives and takes.
I bind you in burlap, secure the shroud it makes,
cover you with a plastic catafalque
meant for the dregs and detritus I buy,
and your last freedom, daughter of the sky,
is to choose if it’s better to live like this or die.
Image 1: West Front of the Parthenon, Edward Dodwell, 1821, Views from Greece.
Image 2: Rosemarinus officianalis