Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Time is forever dividing itself toward innumerable futures and in one of them I am your enemy.

In yet another, I say these very same words, but am an error, a phantom.
—“The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges

To seek the place in which my hands
sift fresh earth,
to lay or unveil or replace
incompatible clay with loam.
Forage for bitter leaves, trifolium, nasturtium.

Consider my days in terms /
the outer limits /
the true effects of nature, nurture.


Beautiful though it was before, [the garden]
is now a scrap heap.
Metal betrayed by flakes of rust,
worried by deep-lodged ores, by memory.

I can’t see you for all the red.
Molecules slowly become productive elsehow.


In another time, within [this garden]
our molecules are in love.
An apparatus blinding and self-

We are, for each other, both inventor
and invented. For once the army
of loss is routed, ouroboros through the ranks.


In this one, [the garden] is still a garden.
We mimic tortured statuary, twisted metallurgy
green with rain.
Listening at the stem for sounds of growth,
we hear human laughter. In this one
we pretend the figures were stolen from a living heaven.
We shine their hands and feet with kisses
and genuflect to show our vigor.


I wasn’t expecting you to arrive. Nevertheless,
[the garden] is now a museum of artifacts,
poorly restored, defunct or nearly.
Great gallery windows curve like swan necks, pour
light like upturned
horseshoes. We glide like polite
phantoms, circumspect around pedestals.
Bell jars cocoon cracked pottery
and arrowheads, porcelain dolls in old muslin,
screw wrenches, turnscrews, dull saws,
telegraphs and telephones,
a Forehand “Perfection” Revolver for women
alone at night, shears, presses, iron
shackles, a self-wringing mop.


In another [garden] I build you up
from a flake of fingernail.
With my tools you are tooled. I bid you palimpsest.
Beams from ruptured stars cross the void
years after death, to reach us.

Of this one, I won’t speak further because I am sorry
for where you have gone.


In this hard [garden], garden of stone, I cast you.
The wheel turns and you slip between my hands.
Friction devises this hollow form. Within shadow,
dimension. You retrieve, I search.
Everything a stone’s throw away.  

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