To Jimbo and Jeanne . . . and Because of Jonathan


Gustav Klimt, 1909

Saturday, November 28, 1987

Orlando, Florida

The Jeanne Miller and James P. Morgan, II Wedding

The gardener digs in the earth,

piercing rich soil with shovel-edge,

turning and churning moist ground,

hoeing the ground, the gardener hoes the ground.


The women approach the gate.

She, Rosie, pulls back the wrought iron

and Barbara goes in, Rosie follows.

The gardener looks up.


Fresh turned earth seeps a smell

of readiness.

And Sonny waits.

These women bring the seed.


They walk with mother-touch,

Firm press of foot-soles mark their intent.

Sonny knows. This is what he wants.

The ground is ready.


Barbara bends to the soil, parts it,

deepens a trough in cool black crumble.

Rosie, the seed cushioned in the center of her palm,

leans to roll it out and down the sculpted tunnel.


They hesitate. Neither moves. The gardener

waits. As if the next movement could be

thwarted, put off, the tiny seed taken back

from prepared ground

at the bottom of a small hole,


in the garden of the gardener.


But this was only a moment’s hesitation.

Both women scooped cupped palms to cover the tiny life,

pressing soft earth to contain and protect the seed.

Barbara poured water over the mound.

The earth drank it up.

Each woman leaned back.

The work was over.


Now to sit, still, so still

and wait, just as the gardener waited,

watched, with foot propped to shovel-edge,

his hand resting on Rosie’s shoulder.


This was no ordinary waiting, in ordinary time.

Years, the two mothers watched

and Sonny leaned to see, as the ground was pushed

back by the fledgling plant, unrolling

its succulent stem so like the embrace

of a man and a woman,

indivisible and upward to the sun,

warm and open. Two branches broke out from the main

stem, opening to the roll of warmth that descended.


Reaching stems proffered leaves, like palms

of lovers asking and receiving the necessary,

Stems lengthened to vines, leaves widened

and the mothers watched, the gardener waited

till day faded–no ordinary day–and night’s moon

yearned halfway down. The vines folded

into each other, bent and twisted and wrapped

within each other, so like the life

of a man and woman and the night

was good and cool and close.


Yet the sun came back,

slow creep into black,

slow to pink the sky,

and orange the dawn.

Vines untwined, palms unfurled

and reached sunward so like imploring arms

of lovers.

And the mothers called

to others: Paul, Fred, Vickie, Jacquie,

Wendy, Dean, Flora, Louie,

Michele, Nancy, Bonnie, Ike.


Now is the time,

full and open is the day

no ordinary day, no ordinary time

as vines bear fruit,

unnameable fruit,

two distinct kinds from one plant,

so like two friends

of the compassionate kind.


And the people hear

and the people gather

at the gate to watch the mothers

and the growing vines

and the gardener keeps hoeing, hoeing.


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