my father was not a gardener

By | 1 May 2020

but he was a handsome widespreading form descended from a long-lived drought-resistant species.

every night he out-walked the doughnut boys “fuckin’ asians!” out in the street in their revved-up ford cortinas.

walking, he knew, was good for surveying the lie of the land and building tolerance for life’s implacably white horizons.

in forty years, one hundred and twenty-five million steps graven in the asphalt, relieving the pressure like a burr hole.

the woman he married was a graceful weeping habit (her beauties severe and planed): a splendid courtyard specimen, unable to grow in heavy soils.

nightly she waited for him: flashlight wedging the dark, bones crumbling early, safe and dry.

discouraged by heavy staking and rectilinear boundaries, my father, struck with leaves of variable light, was a legend among biologists.

every evening he ventured into the wilderness, spade hands a hundred feet deep in thought earth.
the land he roamed was densely populated:

sepia daughters, china, mother. heaving sea-plane, roiling ocean. jock-the-border-collie flying
in the rearview mirror. vauxhall viva. blue.

dead brother. dead lover. whisky. codeine. lost keys a tilting door nana mouskouri singing “you return to love” carbon monoxide filling his lungs like a lake in a bonsai forest.

rain hail sleet snow or interstellar dust, my father rode out to orion’s belt in his sherlock hat, hohner harmonica + johnnie walker + cat in tow. moths strumming the campfire.

when the embers fell, he’d pull up his collar and shuffle inside, pausing a moment to gaze at the oak trees bathed in molasses on the floors of the house.


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