Beryl’s Garden

Beryl’s Garden

for forty-three years
he has manufactured
small wooden signs
that spike into soil
each bears a simple
carved floral scene
and the words ‘Beryl’s Garden’
– he is highly-specialised

too specialised, thinks his wife
contemplating what new to do
with packet rice, another night
of white sliced bread
no-frills canned veg
if only he’d make some Karens
an Emily now and again, an Anne

he recalls the business boom of the 70s
but only occasionally bemoans
the lack of latter-day Beryls
besides, he tells his wife
he is too long in the tooth
to craft Rachels, Ruths

moving aside another stack
of unsold plaques
to create room for his mug
he leans back
in his plastic workshop chair
his gaze drifting away from his tools
and out across the dead azaleas

his flawless bride
fine-lined as etched crystal
hair like silver streamers
cascading slim shoulders
her fertile heart had tended
to his beds, bloomed
in every room, dug him
thought his work something

a starling makes use of the garden
shakes its iridescent head in frost
he picks up a skew, turns it
remembers these hands shaping
wonderlands on the tan of her back
softly lathing palm-flat a thigh bone

she is in the kitchen, on the phone
on the wine, haloed by a hanging bulb
he can make her out through the weeds
probably talking to her sister
more beautiful than ever
where have forty-three years gone?

somehow, at some time
love left the tongue
but in him only deepens
strong and unflinching
cut as though by chisel
a perennial summer song
ingrained, his always
his only one

©Copyright 2017 Ash Dickinson