Ten Takes on the Garden
by Philip Gross

It could, I quite see, grow on you:
the seduction of melancholy. A deciduous
emotion, longing to be mulch.

*

The corkscrew willow: every inch a nervous tic.
How much of what we prize –
Exquisite! – is deformity?

*

Or the shrill of a New England (dying,
dying) Fall – its annual opera. Car-loads
turn out to be ravished by magnificent distress.

*

A garden inclos’d… Outside, the soft
lathe-hum of traffic is part of the point:
that is there. And therefore: this is here…

*

… which might be tragic, if we didn’t half
believe this is the real, right world – the rest,
at best, approximation and at worst, mistake.

*

The mechanical birds of the Great Khan’s
pleasure garden? We have moorhens
ticking over the pond, with rusty squeaks.

*

How subtly crushing is the ruthless calm
of ducks (when they’re not panicking,
that is). We are dismissed by it.

*

And as for Nature? Where more satisfied
than this: the cut stump rotting, liquefying almost,
larvae hard at work on softness, little guts.

*

Where were we? Treading water.
Damp rises. Gravity sucks. And we’re busy
just keeping our heads above ground.

*

When the wind blows, rashly coloured scraps
of children scatter in among the leaves
or vice versa, who knows which is which.

Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, Birmingham.