Another Agony in the Garden

Denise Riley

The harshness in a human face adores its closeness to the bone.

It glories in refusing to yield. It patrols its own numbed attitude

sealed off from another’s despair, to guard its air of being strong.

A fox that strolls in broad daylight has something shameful to disown:

a half-buried relic he’s scraped up, worried at, gingerly chewed,

his hours of seclusion to gnaw it clean compelled to be overlong.

A child who knows its love repulsed steadies to bed itself in stone

then will get even more despised for lacking in proper gratitude.

Convinced it is to blame for not being kindly ushered in among

the good, its feeling’s wordless – more of a subdued animal moan

at a gleam of slim aquamarine rivulets snaking by a painted wood;

the good’s snap verdict (“must move on”) is inexperienced and wrong.

An ear that’s cocked in sympathy with the rock-bound solitary’s groan

and attuned to His rasping egrets, twin comics of divine fortitude,

still hears its own self as isolated – so guaranteeing it can’t belong.

“You knew how to pick ’em alright”, tease the friends who aren’t alone.

I never “picked” anyone – felt lucky to get auditioned, or even viewed.

Am I, thanks to that feeling, a source of a darkness my best efforts prolong.

The moth that trembles in the night blunders around to find her clone.

Her tiny shuddering engagements will chafe away to powdery solitude.

Discarded persons pummel their exasperating ‘shame/blame’ singsong.