Issue 157, Winter 2000
My neighbor who tends the rhododendrons
across the street-mulching, fixing soil acidity,
watering by hose for a long hour each evening—
is evil to everyone but those radiant bushes and,
perhaps, his wife. At seven they stand together,
drinks in hand, perusing the fuchsia,
tangerine, deep purple, the saffron.
What do they make of this sublimated love?
He wants to hide it but cannot. Idly
(while they talk of, what, technique?)
he pinches off a bloom, palms it
and lofts it into the barrow behind.
For his snubs I would psalm him with blame,
let him cover himself with his own confusion
as with a mantle; let cursing come into his bowels
like water, and like oil into his bones.
From my disheveled house I watch
the summer rite, prodigal color
reproaching without curse or blame:
how much badness our things of beauty buy.