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August Garden

June 23, 2008

In the August garden in moonlight
the iron bells rust, the wind itself is rust
and silence. What’s left of water in the birdbath
becomes the stone which holds it.
The frog, the lilies, all pale green stone.
Green veins on white caladiums
narrow toward stems drooping,
leaning toward the clay.

If I were a child, I would read or kneel,
wait out emptiness till I could feel a rising
in my chest like laughter or blood or song,

but here on the stone steps, I ride
the rhythm of loss. It loosens my hair
at the roots, robs it of color strand by strand.
It pulses blue in the raised veins
in my hands, breasts, in the spreading
veins behind my knees, dirtied blue
marble visible only when I stop,
turn to look back.

A wise man loves water. I long to believe
contentment moves like a river within us,
exceeding time and desire.

August caladiums shine like white stones,
heart‑shaped, blank but for vascular
traces of green. I long to believe
these are the traces of rapture
not yet forgotten, bits of green
nourishing the form they inscribe,
sustaining them just above the soil
so that it appears they wait a while,
live as long as they can.

by Robin Davidson

Read by Beth Adams — Download the MP3

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  1. oriana
    June 23, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    A gorgeous poem, very imagistic, beautifully written.

  2. jean
    June 24, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    This is an extraordinary poem. I happened to read it after gardening and cutting the lawn. I do have caladiums, an empty stone bird bath, and varicose veins! And I am a child; I believe in rapture. I would like to read more poems by this author.

  3. June 24, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I agree — it’s a stand-out poem for me, too. We’ll be publishing another of Robin’s poems in this issue, so keep an eye out for that.

  4. Johanna
    February 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Stunning. The careful imagery and perfect weight of this piece leave nothing to be desired. Masterful craftsmanship.

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