"Paradise"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 3 2009 6:37 AM

"Paradise"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Emma Jones read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes..

What you wanted was simple:
a house with a fence and a kind of gulled
light arching up from it to shake in the poplars
or some other brand of European tree
(or was it American?) you'd plant
just for the birds to nest in and so
the crows who'd settle there
could settle like pilgrims.

Darling, all day I've watched the garden make its way
down the road. It stops at the houses
where the lights are on and the hose reel is tidy
and climbs to the windows to look inside
like a child with its eyes of flared rhododendrons
and sunflowers that shutter the wind like bombs
so buttered and brave the sweet peas gallop
and the undergrowths fizz through the fences
and pause at some to shake into asters and weep.

The garden is a mythical beast and a pilgrim.
And when the houses stroll out it eats up
their papers and screens their evangelical dogs.

Barbeque eater,
yankee doodle,
if the garden should leave
where would we age
and park our poodle?

"This is paradise," you said,
a young expansive American saint.
And widened your arms to take it in,
that suburb, spread, with seas in it.

.

Emma Jones' first book,The Striped World, appears this month.

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