Unreal Gardens Without Toads in Them



Today’s listless, nothing to
enumerate — no light
in its hues of jade, and no white-

green heads of hydrangea,
no dark hearts of redbud leaves,
no celadon of the sun-

lit maples, no sea-green treefrog’s
back with each inclusion
of amber and topaz (though he’s

never seen the sea, why
not sea-green?), no silver-tipped
spears of lavender now

poking up in the herbal bed —
only the sludge-brown creek
that borders the back fence is low,

going dry, khaki mud
on algaed stones usually
submerged. Not the way

I’d pictured it (itinerant
, sure)
but I’m listless, sketchy as

I sketch — no stepping-stones, no
new-legged tadpole, no minnow
(Apostrophes? Commas?);

no copperhead burnished in sun,
like hammered metal, like
sheet armor — only a shed skin

floating (like a run in
someone’s stocking?
) no tongue
forked out, flickering-only one

squat Buddha ignoring the sun,
the light, the list. Indolent.
What in my garden book I’d drawn

just last spring as fountains,
walkways, pools, are now fissures
pocked with gravel; the daylilies aren’t

lowering their lemon-
butter heads, the willow’s dreadlocks
aren’t hung to dry in sun (some girl

hiding her face beneath
her heavy hair?
) — No, it’s really not
Appaloosa light, dawn,

late afternoon. I’ve copied out
You must change your life, and
really, I’m just too negligent

to care. The morning will spend itself
in a non-Eden such as this, where
only the sunlight seems lucid.