Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Gardener

The Gardener

The landscape was empty; bleak
after so long abandoned.
The property needed work
from Cretaceous to herbaceous,
a great deal of work
for only one gardener;
but a job is a job
in these hard times.

So, I began the renovation
of the garden on the moon.

I planted frankincense and jade,
linen off the line, an impertinent patch
of plum-purple zinnias.
I turned the stoned moondust
with a diamond shovel,
raked the bed smooth with
Cernunnos' horns
to sow the bony seeds:
old fears, old loves, old enemies
pulled from their prickling casings,
sunned by litigant stars,
watered with Phryne's tears;

then I waited
for the display.

Summer was a ripple
and a roar of rioting color,
ivory skulls on fire and the smell
of burning roses. Smiling, I sat
on the edge of a crater
eyes dazzled shut,
palms turned up, each hand
an open vein to let
the fertile self bleed out,
pooling around the roots
in the rows of moongarden,
while each zinnia-head
was a purple balloon

in the utterly defeated

The garden is lovely now--
(if I say so myself, rebuilt by
a true gardener and poète maudit.)
We're in splendor this season--even into the Fall
all ready for the owner
who never comes. 

~March 2017

at real toads

Process notes: Cernunnos was the Celtic Horned God of life, fertility and the underworld, always depicted with the antlers of a stag. 
Phryne "was an ancient Greek courtesan (hetaira), from the fourth century BC...much praised for her beauty...Supposedly the sculptor Praxiteles, who was also her lover, used her as the model for the statue of the Aphrodite of Knidos, the first nude statue of a woman from ancient Greece...She is best known for her trial for impiety...[where she is described] as clasping the hand of each juror, pleading for her life with tears..." ~wikipedia
poète maudit "..( accursed poet) ..The phrase "poète maudit" was coined in the beginning of the 19th century by Alfred de Vigny in his 1832 novel Stello, in which he calls the poet "la race toujours maudite par les puissants de la terre" (The race that will always be cursed by the powerful..of the earth)..." ~wikipedia


Images: Portrait of The Gardener, Calvert Richard Jones.
Head on a Stem, by Odilon Redon
Public domain


  1. Such a wonderful read...the idea of moon gardening is multilayered and magical and you deliver much to delve into here....and perhaps in and of itself the idea of gardening on the moon is somewhat incongruous.

  2. "from Cretaceous to herbaceous"

    It just doesn't get any better than that.

    You nailed the incongruity. The reveal that the garden is on the moon is perfectly jarring.

  3. Hauntingly beautiful yet shakes me at the same time. Just like life.

  4. Summer was a ripple
    and a roar of rioting color,
    ivory skulls on fire and the smell
    of burning roses.

    Such incredibly powerful images!

  5. So many examples of incongruity... the burning of roses, the skull and turning your garden into mineral... maybe more a graveyard than a garden, but sometimes you have to state it.

  6. There are so many marvelous and quite unexpected phrases in this...litigant stars, burning roses, and especially that arresting final line about the owner who never comes. Thank you for the process notes; the way you use each of these references suits the poem perfectly and only adds to it. I can't imagine--or maybe I can--watering a garden with one's own life blood, and all that that suggests, and then to discover that such a riot of beauty and hard-grown bounty has no one arriving to be amazed at it. Wow.

  7. Quite a bloom from this garden of imagination.

  8. You are a woman who belongs to the earth, to nature, the light of the sun, moon and stars. Your garden and life will be blessed.

    1. Thank you so much for the gracious words, Shadow.

  9. True poetry, to sing of what cannot be yet weirdly blooms: and behind it the Gardener who might surprise herself with the brimming rooms behind sterile soil. Your quietude has sown some gems. Now would you pass that shaker of Cernunnos horn down the table, please!

    1. Thanks, B. Been missing your voice, but quiet brings a different muse to the party, sometimes, doesn't it? And things have no taste for me any more without a little salt of Cernunnos and Morrigan's black crowfeather pepper. ;_)

  10. Such a 'joy' to read your poetry again, Hedge. From the first line, I was instantly reminded of how much I have missed your presence in the blogging world. Your ability to craft an abstract image from words and breathe life and credulity into it is unparalleled.. I wish for my own garden on the moon now.. but what a high price we must pay, in blood, to see any fruition.

  11. Your imagery is, as always, amazing. This wonderful to read, and to envision.........beautiful work, Joy.

  12. The work that goes into the garden, the cost, the dedication... is a feast of imagery and symbols that dances its way into the mind. I love all of it. And, perhaps, because of that, I hurt even more when I get to the end and see that after the bleeding, the breaking of backs, the never-ending tending... the intended viewer never comes to appreciate the treasure. Melancholia in bloom...

  13. A fantastic read. reaping and sowing measured out in decades of life experiences...very neat

  14. here is the secret that I wonder if you keep: that these are glimpses of true things, that the diminutive "hedge" conceals your real magic, and that someone in the blue zone on that arid sister you keep this fertile soil.

    but then, I did take a bit too many hallucinogens while at Berkeley.


    good to read you again ~

    1. Ha! You've found me out, M. ;) And I find if you took enough hallucinogens in youth, you can make your own out of spearmint and moondust later.

  15. I would call you earth woman, mystic. Gardening isn't for the timid. Great poem!


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats