Brian Swann

The Garden
August 18, 2022 Swann Brian



It just came at you. You were in it almost
without knowing–but let me dispense with confessions
and tell the truth: It wasn’t that great, the Garden.
It just appeared from the street looming up after
you’d reached the edges and limits of more of the same.
You could even have been lost–“Tossed? Why tossed?”
Lost. Once inside it seemed smaller–“Or larger.” There were
corners and benches handed over to nannies where
they talked on cell phones .No parents, just nannies who
passed around their charges, some ending up in branches,
others safe in prams–“Baby carriages.” “Can’t you shut up?”
Sometimes it snowed, sometimes it stormed, but nobody
seemed to think there was anything to worry about.
“What about the child molesters?” Trees made it feel safe,
and you were always in the shade and shadow of buildings
through which wind made sounds like crying. Sometimes
sunlight made it through and groped about. It looked
like hard work. “Work?” “Yes, what you do to make
ends meet.” “Why on earth would you want ends to meet?
You’d go in circles.” “Forget it.” “Can I ask you something?”
No. “Why did you never marry?” Light slid around on the pond–
“You never mentioned a pond”–like water striders–
“Which are?”– shiny, fast, unpredictable beads and blobs
who dash about on the surface as if they’re after something.
“Can’t you see why a pond in a place with children
might not be a good idea?” I can now. “A still mind is
a calm, deep pond.” The mind’s a grave. “With ghosts.” Why
do people have kinds if they hand them over to strangers
almost as soon as they’re born? Families are no more.
“What do those beetles actually do?” Who knows. I said
they were light on the pond. Metaphor. Flashing all over
like scattered thoughts of a broken mind. “Simile.
Have you ever been in love?” They look like they live
in constant anxiety, they can’t keep still, “Can they fly?”
I don’t think so. “Then they’re trapped.” They look like
shooting stars, or quick constellations. Some sink.
“Some shall not be saved. St. Paul.” They’re like pieces
on a Ouija board–“There are no pieces on a Ouija board”–
spirits summoned to give direction, help me cross the street
without looking both ways every which way, again and again,
unable to move–“Have you never loved anyone, even fought
to be affectionate?”–and go to my own house, my home
with its own entrance. “Entrance?” OK, entrance, a place of wonder,
wife, children, a kind of fulfilment, where each thing means itself,
no confusion, who’s who, echoes–“Geckos, you say?” OK, geckos,
by now one word’s as good as another. Tiremarks will do as well as truth.
“You had your chance. We have nothing more to say.”
The Garden closes early and empties fast.It’s lonely and scary
in the snaky dark. “Colubrane”. Words, words.
Silence assails all in the end.

Brian Swann’s most recent poetry collection is SUNDAY OUT OF NOWHERE: NEW AND SELECT POEMS (Sheep Meadow Press,2018). Other recent books include Companions, Analogies (poetry, Sheep Meadow Press, 2016) and Not the Real Marilyn Monroe (fiction, MadHat Press, 2017) and HUSKANAW, (novel) from MadHat Press, 2022.