Poetry and Poetics
IN THE GARDEN
Dead things litter the grass—branches,
leaves, needles—last summer’s detritus.
Four deer nibble my rhododendron, consuming
spring’s promised blossoms.
Unflowered now, no burst of red and pink this year,
no sweetness of laurel.
Azaleas, too, surrender to teeth, to hunger’s
chomp and winter’s bite.
Winter consumes what I love and leaves
behind the wreckage of absence—
an inexplicable ache inside,
an unappeasable hunger.
Last summer a family of raccoons
emerged from the evergreens—
the father waddling in front,
mother behind with their child, his leg bleeding.
They ate seeds fallen from a feeder,
drank from the bird bath, stepped in and bathed.
Their fur sleek as seals’,
the mother nuzzled her child and licked his leg.
Days later the large one came alone.
I remembered the wounded child
and imagined the mother in a bed
of leaves, unable to move.
I want to believe in regeneration, that what’s
gone can return.
But only the deer come back, brazen and unafraid
when I rap the pane.
They stare at me, their eyes wide,
bodies poised, then strip away what is mine.
I want buds back on the branches,
you here in spring, your hunger and mine appeased.
© by Diane Lockward
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