[from Pamela Alexander's Navigable Waterways, Yale, 1985]
The Garden in the Middle
Panes and eggs make fragile dozens:
two times six in cardboard nests, food
for angels who eat cake; three
times four the membranes between weathers.
Frames hold themselves in wooden hugs
that keep the world together, the glass
a cubist with twelve angles on what is:
peach tree; sea flexing; perhaps a house
being painted blue. Here, a Q:
a british line. A dozen people
wait to buy beer in the sculpture garden.
English sparrows and leaves also
stand in lines together, higher
than the humans. Big plants
digest sunlight and rumble in their juices.
People through the queue sit
to tea-cakes and quiches
at tables made of metal imitating
lace: ornate with curlicues,
the iron legs are painted white
as eggs. Dozens of dozens of windows
surround the lines of this and that:
the museum looks out, and in,
at its informal center. The courtyard
a disordered game board:
tables white squares, flagstones grey, both
scattered crazily. Couples
play hearts everywhere. Queens and
pawns and wandering knights take cues.
Jokers coin jingles
and wink. Second fiddles
fiddle with their drinks. And hundreds
of visions of the light touching things
pass through the tiny panes of eyes each
Hands hold the light up
as they gesture, conducting
the people in the garden talk, they are
what they say. When they are quiet
their bodies are maps of the cosmos,
hands five-pointed stars. Fish dive in the blue
streaks of their arms, angels rise
in their smiles.
Rings and bracelets flash like waves
landing, waves fragile
as glass, as white shells washed ashore.