Let us praise the ghost gardens
of Gary, Detroit, Toledo—abandoned
lots where perennials wake
in competent dirt and frame the absence
of a house. You can hear
the sound of wind, which isn’t
wind at all, but leaves touching.
Wind itself can’t speak. It needs another
to chime against, knock around.
Again and again the wind finds its tongue,
but its tongue lives outside
of its rusted mouth. Forget the wind.
Let us instead praise meadow and ruin,
weeds and wildflowers seeding
years later. Let us praise the girl
who lives in what they call
a transitional neighborhood—
another way of saying not dead?
Or risen from it? Before running
full speed through the sprinkler’s arc,
she tells her mother, who kneels
in the garden: Pretend I’m racing
someone else. Pretend I’m winning.
Copyright © 2018 Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2018.
Maggie Smith is the author of Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017), The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), and Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005).
Date Published: 2018-07-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/perennials