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The Garden GoddessDavid Harsent
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Vol. 31 No. 2 · 29 January 2009
Poem

The Garden Goddess

David Harsent

404 words

Out by the woodpile at 3 a.m., knock-kneed and shitfaced,
lost in your own backyard,
you pour a libation that comes straight from the dregs and she drinks it.

Or you stand at a sinkful of broken this and that
wide-eyed and with nary a hint of what’s next,
as she goes by with her Tesco bags and a fifth of gin in her pocket.

She keeps unholy hours. There’s a chance you’ll see her naked
at noon among roses; a fair chance, too,
that in bending to cup a bloom, she’ll show you the little widget

of her arsehole, damson-sweet and, some say, the very fount
of knowledge, though certain dream-
images, featuring sweats and the shakes, somehow cause me to doubt it.

Capricious? Of course. She’ll as likely spit in your eye as lay
a calming hand on your cheek, although
it’s known that she once gave up a bindweed and bottle-top bracelet

that carried a certain charge, a link of some kind, a portal,
that could rush you all the way
to the back of the garden and open the gate and set your foot on the snicket

that leads to the ever notorious ‘place beyond’, and the way
thorny and the light gone bad and the wind rising,
which is why you’ll decide, in the end, to take her advice and forget it.

As she turns to favour you with that self-same rose, you might notice
how her shoulder blades jut and curve
like the folded wings of an angel, how she smells very slightly of civet,

how her nose is off-true, as if she had once been the victim
of a random attack, how the dark of her eye
can bring you on, or the wet of her lip, how the dab of cuckoo-spit

that fell to her thigh from some dead-head or seed-pod
has left a trickle of glisten,
some time later described in your journal as ‘slick, like a scar in velvet’.

As for why rain works round her, or how things green
when she moves among them, or what
music hangs in the air, these things must remain, as always, her secret,

as must the true tale of the love of her life, who saw her
exactly as you see her now, and took
her kiss and changed, so we’re told, in a moment from mortal to misfit.

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