for Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring, 2012
Into My Garden
As if New Jersey were Babylon, an Argentine
and an Istreali argue in Aramaic, Styrofoam
cups of instant coffee warm their hands,
Other boys return last night's commentary:
I have come into My gardern,
back and forth they sing like an invitation.
What did I learn in school? Whenever
the philosopher lectured on the death of
metaphysics, pollen found a window, pistil
and stamen crazed with each other.
Yellow, the serpentine walls and columns.
Yellow, the library where a church belonged.
Some nights his student recited
the lecture like a pledge, but nothing changed
not the pitcher between us, the glass
slick with our fingerprints, the envy I felt.
Boys dressed like men race the stairwell
singing, as if to hear what My garden means:
seven generations caused God to withdraw,
seven generations drew him back.
All those years of talking–what did I learn?
All arguments end with a shrug.
- David Caplan