Friday, August 24, 2012


The Locked Garden

i ate the bitter plant with the same lust i felt at wanting a child
gulping down handfuls of shredded leaves before the nausea hit again
the only thing i could stomach
my mouth and eyes watered, salacious i climbed the fence tearing my silken petticoats
i got down on my knees in the dirt scraping my chin with twigs
my knees embedded with pebbles
i would have eaten the moist earth too but my husband stopped me
he took me in his arms and brought me home but each night i escaped and went back
sucked on the plant, devouring

when my child was born with her long green hair smelling of leaves
and her leaf shaped eyes
the witch who owned that locked garden threatened me with death
if i did not give my daughter up
i refused ready to die in an instant rather than lose her
i'm a mother after all
i wondered how i could ever have loved a plant when i held my baby
with her tendril fingers

but again the king, my husband intervened and at twelve
she was gone
taken to the tower
a young woman with breasts as big as mine and long colt legs
skin like white roses that grow in witch's gardens
her hair a stepladder of green but not for me
everyone talks about her fate and the fate of the prince who saved her
but i'm the one who suffered the true loss
me with my rapacious hunger
i'm the one who made the gravest


  1. #8

    My locked garden is safe in the backyard
    behind the shed and swingset
    the dogs can never sniff it out
    I crawl under the gate
    the neighbors never know (because they're dead--
    their garden is forever locked
    but I am tiny
    so my parents say
    I am so tiny
    they always tell me to eat
    that the monsters will take me away
    I know they're lying because they giggle when I run away crying
    but I don't believe them anymore
    because here, in my locked garden of roses,
    daffodils, plum trees, and
    the monsters stay with me
    and we giggle at how silly
    grown-ups can be.

  2. this is not the comfort you sought
    this is disbelief
    you wanted to taste all the flavors
    but fell victim to indescretion
    heaven became a machine to
    doze down pointing fingers
    your chin up, you're tripping
    your eyes opening with
    a romantic glaze
    concussed you shiver while
    pulling out your pardons
    she said she would forgive
    if she was the better lover
    your lips can tell a thousand lies
    while lapping up the oyster
    but this is obviously not well
    met, my incredulous laugh
    at the attempt to entrance me
    again into your ether
    the dark does not always cover
    twined hands caught in
    moon bright

  3. i stare out a gate covered in webs and thorns
    and guarded by black birds with black eyes
    i don't see much beyond trees blocking sky above
    and mist erasing the road that might lead me somewhere
    this is the first scene i sketch on my drawing pad
    and i promise i'll find a way to unlock the lines,
    to find a new place to live, one outside the stone walls
    so many negative thoughts, about forgetting the time
    or where i am, have built--i'll dig beneath or cut the chain
    or call to a curious prince riding on a grey horse
    who will help me to the other side where i'll forget paper
    and draw on my skin--i'll draw the whole world

  4. Far beyond the gate lives the witch
    her house on chicken legs
    her cauldron always bubbling
    ready for the next child

    it is said that long ago
    they banished her
    called her evil, thrown stones
    waging tongues say she bewitched men
    made them lose their wits
    and only think of her

    I heard once that she had been a beautiful maiden
    graceful, intelligent
    many suitors looked to claim her hand
    but she refused them all
    and that is when they began to hate

    they hated and they hated
    fought each other and spilled blood
    the other girls called her a demon
    and thats what sealed her fate

    I look through the gate that separates us
    I can almost make her out
    she does not look so dreary as they promise
    but quite contend to be the hag

    I secretly wish I can be like her
    free to do as she pleases
    free of blame and guilt
    be the evil that is independent

    The gate is meant to imprison
    but is she the caged or are we?

  5. One Small Step

    He passed the gate today.
    Neil Armstrong soared and we followed, when we could
    though so many cage ourselves in
    rather than see what might lie beyond.

    I didn't see the moon or the earth as he did
    a fragile blue-green dot peeping through the starry black
    or maybe I do since we learned
    (some of us)
    that the universe is much bigger than a few hairless apes.

    We can peer through the bars.
    We can see the birds
    still attached by gravity but able to, for a while, leap and cavort.
    Maybe that's what he did: allowed our spirits to fly
    even though we know the inevitable.

    Do you know what field expands on the other side?
    What lingers in the fog?
    When will we be brave enough to close our predictions
    pass through the gate
    and let the cool, green scent of grass guide us?

  6. The graveyard gate
    black against the morning fog
    curls of metal decorate it, like solidified smoke rings and ivy with pointed leaves
    that could draw blood from the touch of a finger.

    She peers through the gate, squinting her eyes through the fog to make out the shadows of grave stones

    She sees the illusions and realities that the movement of fog and light make and something else moving, she cannot see, but her mind fills in with fantasy the absence her senses cannot place.

    As if from the fog itself, a dark figure appears, and the gate creaks open beckoning to her.

    In a daze she follows, dressed in the cloud of her transparent night gown dragging on the ground behind her.

  7. my childhood house had a wrought iron fence
    it wasn't for safety, only for decoration

    i remember the tops looked like arrows
    cemented into brick
    where i would look out, at cars passing
    while my brother would try to trap spiders

    we had an open arch,
    with plants growing around it
    like a door
    between the sidewalk and the driveway

    cemeteries have gates too
    a separation between the living and the dead
    the one near my old house became my oasis
    after i nearly died, the 2nd time

    we kind of discovered it
    on my walks for recovery
    around the neighborhood
    with someone near me
    cause i needed their body to lean on

    there was a path onto a field
    on the right through the gravel
    before stepping on the wooden bridge
    over a pond, and under a weeping willow

    i would walk among the grass
    between headstones looking at names and dates
    thinking of the strangers i never knew
    making up stories about their lives

    i would talk about how i wanted to be cremated and my ashes to be planted with a new tree
    for i wanted life to begin
    in the event of my death
    and perhaps maybe a bench
    for someone to sit upon

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  9. Old School (circa 1996, Writer's Craft Journal, grade 13)

    Seven Times (a remake of Anne Sexton's)

    I was born seven times
    in seven ways
    letting life give me a dream,
    letting imagination place her mark in my mind,
    float away, float away.

    And life took flight in that dream.
    In that dream i beheld a dove
    and I lifted it
    and was lifted by it.
    Oh Sky, hold me.
    I am a small cloud.

    Seven Times by Anne Sexton

    I died seven times
    in seven ways
    letting death give me a sign,
    letting death place his mark on my forehead,
    crossed over, crossed over.

    And death took root in that sleep.
    In that sleep I held an ice baby
    and i rocked it
    and was rocked by it.
    Oh Madonna, hold me.
    I am a small handful.

  10. Wouldn't you want
    To step inside
    The witches garden?

    I bet her roses
    Fill your hands,
    Soft as his pelt
    With beast-claw thorns
    Going straight to your head
    Till you fall dizzy,

    I bet her apples are
    Worth risking the
    Poison sleep, worth
    Risking the flaming sword
    The expulsion.
    Red as blood,
    Golden enough to
    Crack Trojan walls while
    Trojan women wail.

    The dewdrops

    When the birds in her garden sing
    Why wouldn't you offer

    A kingdom, a crown,
    A daughter