Composition

The grass frames the stones
beside the deck, thick & rich;
one of the nine looks
like this state he dwells in.
the others are just flags.

In the yard, the lawn surrounds
five plantings like the Royanji stones:
a juniper, a small evergreen
margined by snow-on-the-mountain,
a low shrub and two wild plantings.

He grooms these as best he can.
A large wild patch is packed
with lupine, purple cone flowers
violet, joe pye weed, and turkís cap
whose orange is so deep as to glow

red; and weeds, which he tries
to curb but never can, without
killing flowers; but thatís
what wild is: nightmares beyond
control, wolves, weeds, hawks.

South, a pond filled with two
aquatic grasses and red lotus
and koi, like ideas that appear
and vanish in dark water;
ferns and stone surround.

In the rock, wild and tended,
a jack-in-the-pulpit preaches
to flea bane, shamrock, hyacinth,
rose geranium, and a red
christmas plant transplanted there.

A tidy place, carefully edited
for balance to show to best
advantage how lily-of-the-valley
and hosta and coral bells
cling to water and to rock

gathered from the nationís corners;
from Europe, Greece, and Turkey,
artifacts comprehensive:
Mesa Verde, Gem Beach, Loganís
Pass, some paving squares from

Prague, and rose granite from
his ancient homeland: a province
at the deep end of Sognefjord
on Norway's stormy west coast:
his roots in stone willed to children.

The garden behind, by wine grape
arbors, thirteen squares framed
by log and western cedar bark
paths, is filled with tomatoes,
peppers, cucumbers, asparagus,

rhubarb, which Tibetans hold
to be the primordial men,
their first-appearing homunculi
wrinkled at birth, and crimson
with expectation; and pumpkin

and watermelon. The tomatoes
he dresses carefully, snapping
suckers--excess words he does
not need, and hoes out purslane
and pig weed like maniac thoughts

he canít quite control. They reappear
forever, and as often, he weeds.
Opposite the vineyard to the east,
west is a large wild raspberry
patch. This they eat from, Mars

multitudes that sweetly hang
in emerald space. He dresses
and keeps these gardens; but his
is only one of three. To the south
a fence with a temple gate,

one also both wild and tame,
queen anneís lace, tulip and lily,
leeks and a pagoda tree, sweet
peas proportion wilderness
and groomed estate; and

to the west near raspberries
and bird feeders, a fence
and another neighborly gate
linteled with a carved long ship,
a bower of berry, bird, and flower.

This trinity, combined as one,
an interpenetrating perichoresis
so that when he cuts and
textures his lawn, the grass,
his neighbor will declare:

ďIt looks just like a park now.Ē And
so it does! A triune masterpiece
of tamed and wild exegeted,
most weed erased, but the wild
left wild, reason and hectic dream,

order and swamp, fruit and flower
blended, uplifting to heart and eye.


Steven Fortney


Back to SF Poetry Page
Back to SF Home Page

Page updated by TiPi, 1/24/2007