Copyright © 2002 Bob Dornberg
My Life With a Gardener
The screen door firecrackers closed.
I find her at the sundry drawer
prowling for twine. I'm nothing
she sees. There's a tornado
in her hair, her face is streaked
with dirt like markings applied
before the rituals of drums.
I've watched her shadow break free
and tend the next row of corn.
I understand this eagerness
as fully as I can speak for the ocean.
I say water is behind everything,
a blue dictator, say waves
are obsessed with their one word
but have no idea what that word is.
Her hands enter soil like needles
making the promise of a dress
from cloth. In December she begins
smelling lilacs, by February
she sees the holes
peppers burn through snow. I see her,
she's the last green thing I need.
When finally she's pushed inside
by the rude hands of dusk,
I set down my life for her skin,
taught all day how to smell
like the sun, and the hundred
directions of her hair, and eyes
that look through me to flowers
that only open their mouths
to speak with the moon.
Copyright © 2002
First appeared in The Southern Review
Reprinted by permission of the author
Bob Hicok's latest book of poems, Animal Soul (Invisible Cities, 2001) is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Boulevard, The American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, The Pushcart Prize XXV, two editions of The Best American Poetry, and other publications.