Alexis Lykiard

City Garden Triptych

Le Gusta Este Jardín? . . . ¡Evite Que Sus Hijos Lo Destruyan!


The bath whose metal feet once clawed
at fitted carpet, sits on stone,
a fine matt shade of navy blue.
It's a great vase, an earthy throne,
this relic of the cramped dark house
you grew up in, and we accord
it pride of place. . . . Thus too, bamboo
sprouts where the outside privy stood,
past rambling roses all enjoy.
Here's jungle in which our dead cat,
peaceably meditative, sat,
mocked by each squirrel, bird and mouse.
We'll move on soon, but not destroy
such rus in urbe — although others would.


I've always been an exile and
am reconciled to live Abroad —
to be a part of Europe, not

apart from it. This small island
and our crammed beloved garden
may soon be losing us: you've got

the urge to move on out (restored
to leisure, pleasurable life
again), dear Francophile and wife!

As loud, vile concrete conquers all,
greedily attitudes harden
while speculators plot new crimes.

I hope this oak survives these times:
may its green hardihood not fall.
A wish the old gods should pardon.


Beyond the tall rear window,
just above the stream's edge

hang in masses hazel
catkins. All their greening

aglets start to stir — clustered
against a hint of breeze —

the constant flood of cars
only yards off up the slope.

We're lucky to be screened by high
-angled branches, burgeoning

new spring greenery, the stand
of trees, beside this oak which serves

as home to several squirrels.
Still we recall an earlier time

of pre-Millennial conflict, when the din
of traffic, tortured engines, truant squeals

could drive a peaceful mind quite wild.
We sit within the garden nonetheless.

How though, avoid thought? Hope
sickens at what lies ahead. Again now

one questions where the country's gone,
mechanically accelerating toward War,

smugly devoid of anguish, free of blood. . . .
Angered, and standing by the brink

of our unimportant city stream, we share
these dark reflections, powerless.

And recollect how mad it felt to stare
down, not so long ago, at that same drop,

six foot or so, straight into Balkan mud.