Friday, September 7, 2012

Garden Quintet


Yes, we slept in the garden, all that bread
And wine we’d shared. So softly blew the breeze
Like a love-struck virgin’s sigh through the trees:
How could we know he’d be so soon dead.

It was a strangely dreamless sleep, as though
A pause had been called. He begged us to rouse
And we did, but quickly fell back to drowse
Even as he wept. Just how could we know

The imminence of events? All he’d taught,
That we should look to creation and see,
Come to trust the truth of what we thought,

Was the way through which we could all be free
From taking the word of others. We ought
To have awakened, but we dozed, but not he.


Eve pressed the crook of her elbow across
Her eyes, resting her narrow naked back
Against the tree, surely leaving a track
Of rough bark on her skin. Being at a loss

Over quite what he should do next, Adam
Wondered: he could go down to the fountain
And wash the juice from his fingers. There again,
The stickiness felt like blood of a lamb,

But how did he know this? She wasn’t weeping,
Just closing out the garden, hoping blindness
Might be a comfort. Or, pretend sleeping

And he might let her alone. Better dress
Quickly and hurry away, no creeping
Though, to imply she’d something to confess.


The roots go down to the very centre,
Drawing goodness up from the endless dead,
While the topmost branches reach out and spread
Towards fathomless space they can’t enter.

At his own instigation there’s a god
Hanging there, or so his followers claim,
Though why a deity should choose to maim
Himself is unresolved. There comes the odd

Crow or two, ready to peck out his eyes,
But some say they are really bringing him
Advice on the world of truth, world of lies.

Overhead the clouds gather, light grows dim:
Perhaps beneath a million distant skies
Disbelief’s suspended on such a whim.


As he had done, she wept. With the grotto
Being empty, folly though it was, all hope
Seemed vanquished. Keeping faith might be a trope
And little more, but still she had to know

What had happened to him. He had promised
To meet her there, though no one else believed
He’d show. Had she really just been deceived?
She’d not doubted for a moment when they’d kissed.

Then, there’s someone in the garden, she’s sure.
Hope, like glistering spring sun, intercedes
And she goes up to him calmly, with pure

Intent. He’s kneeling, occupied with weeds
“Who are you?” she asks. His eyes are azure:
“I’m the gardener who simply sows the seeds.”


There, just there, is precisely where it stood.
Kids were warned, of course, “Do not eat the fruit!”
But, well-meant prohibition does not suit,
Especially when it’s for their own good.

Damn the precocious young! So, no choice then,
Axe sharpened and set to the trunk. Who knows
How long it took, or the number of blows?
Then, finally, “Timber!” Government men

They were who came, offered a decent sum
As it had, for them, plenty enough length
To spare to cut and fashion a crossbeam.

Certainly sturdy, it would take the strength
Of two to shift it. Made into a frame,
It was used once to crush a Hyacinth.

                                                Dave Alton