This is another one sparked by a reported comment from the friend whose every anecdote gave me an idea in the spring and summer of 2005. She was simply retrieving an old family saw, I think. This one has never seen the light of day, almost certainly because even I can see that it is more interested in playing with words than in doing something with them. However, it is true about Dr. Garden. Dr. Alexander Garden, an eighteenth century botanist, to be precise. This is like an architect being called Dr. Buttress. It’s one of those stray facts that the internet gives you when you’re least expecting it.
Looking At It Won’t Get The Gardening Done
That’s what the sign said,
as bold as a brassed-off monkey. I looked at it,
and read it with raked eyes. Behind me,
a man with a telescopic lens
was shooting himself in the head.
You can’t make a lawn without
breaking into an omelette, I riposted,
and ate one, painfully. Not if you
want it level.
The cameraman sighed.
He wept albumen tears, and parked himself
by the Park sign. Behind the bars,
there were prams and the cold candy
of a winter bandstand. He wiped
a thick roll of film from his face.
This is my garden. It is full of gardenias,
which were named for Doctor Garden. Their leaves
are gloss, their flowers are sour cream.
I looked at the land, and it shrank into focus.
Take a picture of that, I told him.
Look at it. It grows without asking,
and it won’t wear planting.
When the mist lifted,
the place was packed with tripods and trellis
and the sound of grass widows.
You can hear the poem here: