Garrison Keillor read this on Writer’s Almanac, and it appeared in The Gospel of Galore. I wrote it for a contest held by the Japanese Garden in Seattle’s Arboretum — they gave you a free day in the arboretum if you gave them a poem. Wish Disneyland would do such a thing!
If She Could Have Her Love For You Only One Day A Year
by Tina Kelley
<!– (from The Gospel of Galore) –>
If life bloomed once a year, if we sat in dim rooms the rest of the days, resting,
she would come here for that noontime, to see children waist high,
their attentions wandering like wall eyes, making noises that sound to a single person
like severe distress or pain, but mean delight. She would hear a father shouting
“Olivia! Wait for Maggie!” whatever good that does. Sun off the lake
makes bright veins on the underside of a Japanese red pine,
lightens the bark like a buttercup held under it. She would see the limp-legged wasp,
the bumblebee with jodhpurs of pollen, straddling the sweet stigma of the purple hosta.
She would see the shadows of the waterbug’s feet, circled by sharp light.
If she could have her love for this garden only one day a year
she would take souvenirs. Everyone does — a snapshot, a sketch, a stone, a sentence,
two nuggets of food for the koi, moist, in the pocket of size 6x shorts. The honeybees
hump their rumps over their work, walking on the globe of a cloverhead.
She sees that the waterbugs move so seldom, is each polished slide an annual event?
She would lie down and read and walk away stronger,
with the memory of the comfort of the sun on the soles of her bare feet.
Bullfrog, dragonfly, buttercup, snow lantern, vine maple, honeybee,
cloverhead, waterbug, moonlight: She wants this by moonlight.
“If She Could Have Her Love For You Only One Day A Year” by Tina Kelley, from The Gospel of Galore. © Word Press, 2002. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)