The Hand in the Garden
by G. David Schwartz
Betony, like metaphor and mnemonic, is a devise of beauty. Angelica, the storied herb, heals with taste; towers over mere mortal who transported the box which weighed our shoulder as we trudged across the garden. We felt a mauve pain of aconite disgust. The presence of just such an anguish allowed us to ignore the linear arch of numbing tarragons.
O, shrewd potentilla which sent her leaves to cover flowers hovering under the forgotten bell of a former embrace. Yarrows sing discoid florets into clustered rays. The bluish woad winds with woods into an oblong toothed flowering. Clouds of mustard in an agonized pitch settle over pathetic bone as pennyroals imitate God’s very own image of a saxophone. Once, this was all sufficient to bleat out the blasphemous mistletoe of darkness.
One might sing, Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Purge me among the hyssop, and I shall be in whorls; wash me amid the mutlets, sessiles and corollas and I shall be clean to the calyxes. Now we only remember the sad mist of prayer: Thickets of mint for bergamots breath. Thickets of mint for bergamots breath.
Towers of gentian and large webs of camfrey once built picturesque castles and chicory winds and catnip breezes cleaned our consciences. The sky itself use to dance on a coltsfoot. Now several brooms lay against the wall in slender branches, thin reminders of what was and what was to come.
Gnarled green tributaries of rivers careened upon the soil and turned molten. It is the garden which makes me speak this way. So much beauty gives you so much wisdom. The garden is gnarled with beauty, veined with wisdom. A wild corming of diversity indulges in a voracious appetite for a thing as common as life. Jade puddles are still against the outrages of shade, calmed by the sun, delight in rain.
My memories resemble a dartmouth jungle settling into a garden split by a path which, is truth be known, is conscious of exist beyond itself as metaphoric instances of innumerable performances and ideals. On the fray, meleagris sigh. The armeniacum grape hyacinth huddles together in spite of its languishing leaves. The cyclaminens cry into the earth. Elegans curse their name; weep, wail and moan.
I grew up in these gardens, called “this garden.” A flood of geraniums like a lewd steady stream of sensuous mulatto stood as a canopy of gladiolus sylvestris in the mouth of brave evergreens shaded into heedlessness. Orphanidea committed felonies as austere Dutch Fairs laughed aloud. Clusiana ceremoniously swayed. The dainty faces of purple peruviana smiled graciously. Volumes of striped squill puschkinia radiated in velocity and lore, spouting tomes of pollen and succulently reading themselves into the silver vestiges of the sun. All things were engaged in the hidden practice of flummage.
Everywhere we were aware of the rich, delicious chocolate earth, source of everything visible. A young pool of orchids sprawled next to a grumbling saber-toothed lilac bush. Shivers of magenta tangled invisibly with pomegranate heliotropes. Byzantinus nodded in worship as trumpeting hybrid lilies lighted havdalah candles with their eyes. Tomasinianus designed paradigms for thoughts of nature. Luciliae scampered themselves. Clusters of the mariposa bled red, breed lavender, born purple, bray about in orange. Ferns which might have enlivened an angel’s breath stood next to perennials which could take an angel’s breath away. Grapevines had led themselves into a patio beginning.
In the garden, typical application of the word ‘lush’ was made to seem trite. And there is nothing worse than triteness. With perfect fidelity, I remember the words my father spoke to me as we stood among the lacy knotted foliage which built a yearly network of silence. His words were carefully chosen, and my ears greedy: “My son, a particular vague hand had spent goodly time upon this patch of earth.” What he was saying was certain true. We certainly looked upon our homeland as the bandage of the world. Everything which went on in the world outside the garden was beneath us, and everything beneath us was festering, bad-blooded, brooding pus of nonsense and indecision. Life was typical everywhere except in our wonderful homeland.
“I could tell you about the sky,” my father was saying, “That large bell of inaudible sound on the clouds, those fleeting representations of life. It is useless to tell you of the weather. And you know well that that distant scenery is pushed even further by the beauties I should describe. There are frequently animals present; the deer, the snake, the insects, the wise and colorful birds of observation and prayer. But these are inconsequential. They each exist for the sake of, or the amusement of, the garden.” I understood well what my father was telling me. I shall not spend much time comparing the claims of my homeland — which implies the true meaning of the word ‘cannibal’ — to other places on earth.
Beauty and grandeur, for the most part, are indeed built upon comparison with slander and parody, but can also be known within itself when one is within it. I need tell you no more about my childhood. You are, no doubt, concerned more about my coming to maturity.
Blue stars and pink stars struggled competitively to ease the burdens the splendor of the garden. Alluring allium burst above each low surface of the ground. A crepe myrtle branched upward in prayer as a chorus is dalilias, montebretia and regal lilies scanned the earth with timbre and tones rarely known to the ears of people. The sun and cooling breeze lay across the earth as the caladiums lay with dreams across themselves. We humans walked as splashes of pale life among the silvery artemesia, the mauve-pink asters, the bulbous blue agapanthus. Creeping, clinging, tangled tenacious stonecrop sneaks along in rich green bursts where she decided to rest, snuggled in a brilliant yellow. The pasque opened her rich violet bloom for the illusions of nearby near-sighted robins. Snapdragons rode in delirium. Carmine poppies stood in a prophetic stance as bachelor buttons floated a silky bloom amid the flora of pimpernel. Roseate marp and plum junes climbed between the stepping stones. Each foot on thyme releases a penetrating scent of wonder. Generations of molten granite lay below our feet. The flowers and vines along our path where an airy will to forgetfulness as well as expressions of the deity’s will.
Outside the wall of the garden, the stately canary-bird vines chatter song-like up the bricks, poking yellow beaks, over a period of days, in and out of the crevice. The remainder of the world is break and remote, is it not? It disappears in a rim of fog and quaint mist. The world outside this garden agonizes in a haze of familiarity and failure. Thankfully, prayerfully, we have kept the ceremony of splendor and the solemnity of majesty within scope. My father’s words linger with me still. Still; like the most taciturn moment of the wind when she remembers that we threw the body of the intruder into the pebbled grave of filth.
You may understand the garden as a metaphor espousing whatever you please. I can assure you, however, that mine is a factual report, a true representation of a reality which occurred. I spoke only that you might understand. Nevertheless, I cannot prevent you from your spineless intellectual craving to avoid the tired, tried and truism of your reality. I will, then, guarantee you that I did not delve into parody. I did not taunt your imagination by taking the cheap and illustrious way of mirroring you. I simply shared the story which you would otherwise divide into shares of your own. By now you have realized that I cannot allow you to leave the garden!
Copyright © 2005 by G. David Schwartz