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J U N E   1 9 9 6

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LISTENING TO THE GARDEN

by Brendan Galvin


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Look at it this way: under the brass fanfare
of their blossoms, all those zucchinis
are really incipient oompahs.
And the peavine tremolos? Middle C
rubbed out of a rhubarb stalk?

Now you're beginning to hear it: that line
of radishes ostinato, bean paradiddles,
a beefsteak tomato redballing its cadenza.

Aren't the parts of these vegetables---the phloem,
the calyx and carina---names of woodwinds
you'd love to hear, in counterpoint
to the garden's valves and bells?

Remember that morning you drove
into the main street of a town---Colorado Springs,
was it?---on no holiday you could name?

Nevertheless, the high school band was passing,
majorettes in their short, flippant skirts
frilled like the inner linings of lettuce,
and shakos, corn-tassel plumed, remember,

and the frogging on jackets---cucumber vines
scrolled on themselves. The whole garden's
flash and patootle was moving off
toward a snowed-upon peak
down at the end of that street.


Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; June 1996; Listening to the Garden; Volume 277, No. 6; page 86.

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