The Gardeners

There is a garden in a secret place
hidden behind an ivy-covered gate
that squeals when it is opened
a cobblestone path leads you through
wild forsythia, joyous and yellow
riotous azaleas, white and red and pink
reaching their arms to grab at your pants
as you walk the twisting paths.
The old, gnarled oak sends forth his roots
through the entire garden, disrupting the tidy cobblestones
here lifting the path, here pushing aside the fence
to make room for his mighty trunk
and the wide branches on which the squirrels cavort
as they bicker and tease the mourning doves,
searching the ground for their breakfast.
Honeysuckle twines about the pickets
and poison ivy just may lurk in the brush.
Bees buzz, dragonflies hover, and the little birds sing
chick-a-dee-dee-dee, chick-a-dee-dee-dee.

Another garden lies beside this one
equally private, with a wooden gate that doesn’t squeek
an orderly brick promenade leads through stately hedges
rows of scarlet tulips and buttery daffodils
past fiery red poppies and fragrant blue freesia.
In the center stands a stately maple
dignified, dressed in her scarlet finery,
forgetting, in the summer sun, her spring frivolity
when she rains helicopter seed-pods over the garden
and her branches shiver as she laughs in delight
to see them spinning, looping, twirling to the soft ground below.
A pair of cardinals nests in the holly hedge
cocky red man and modest brown wife
while the butterflies flit from bloom to bloom
nourished by the nectar, the life of this place.

Before next summer, these two private places
will merge into one.
The firm fence will yield, as will the dilapidated railing
and somehow bumpy curvy cobblestone paths
must wind their crooked way to connect
with the straight and orderly brick promenade.
The old gnarled oak and the stately maple
will both shade the same grounds
and straight rows of flowers will share their space
with twining vines and pricking thorns.
Politely trimmed hedges must learn to live
amid rapacious ivy and riotously reaching shrubs.

My heart fears for these precious private places
these gardens tended so carefully to become
a haven of rest, of peace, of solitude.
When two become one, peace can be found
but the two gardeners must seek that peace together,
must make room for the gnarled and the stately
the orderly and the wild
the ostentatiously beautiful and the quietly lovely.
When my cobblestones meet your bricks
will you twist my winding paths until they are straight?
Or will the bricks and stones wander together
straight for a time, then turning
turning to face the sun together, to bring light to our garden
to nourish our trees, our hedges, our shrubs, our blossoms
and those who take their rest in our shade?

Come sit with me, my love,
where the branches of the gnarled oak
twine with the limbs of the stately maple
lay back on the moss and weave flowers in my hair
while I tickle your chin with dandelion fluff.
Let us watch the blue sky through green and red leaves
and consider our garden
together.

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