Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing October 2022.
The Gardener, poem by Kate McNamara.
Last Sunday at the market garden
I saw you again toiling over
flowers plants the blush
of a winter rose old baby’s breath.
(your favourite mine Tahitian bridal veil)
And I marvelled at the hours of my life consumed
like litmus autumn in my mind
that I had burned the unburned candle for you.
the tears the midnight trysts.
in a green place with statuary birds crying.
Of how we could not keep our hands from
each other nights that became
strangers shaped by unreason a daze of hope.
You looked up from your labours
(how you hate to be interrupted in the gentle art)
You recognised a spirit kin passing by
your world moved on its orbit
and still you could not see me
(How can that be?)
And I laughed Merlin’s laugh
and looked back into the tiger eyes
of that time the absolute nature of your
obsession singular you never could touch me
nor bear not to I wrecked a marriage over you
And yours as well: what was it?
Purple wine of the summer grape Dionysius
the scent of earth the high sighing of pine trees
or your hands making love in the back of a ute
the green harbour of your eyes your laughter.
Now it seems at last you have
finally become of assistance to me
as I battle one last love in summer by the sea
so now I can smile at this new one green eyed and
nut brown a winter king enigmatic.
As deceitful as an eel a man who has to win
even when losing so I smile and deeper
comes the memory the time of ashes the Easter bird.
Next time I find you I will speak
you will be shocked and then annoyed
surely I was dead or gone. How could
I bear life without you?
Was it worth it? Hard to say
the balance never settled quite the same
thank you for the learning the tales
of Aphrodite and her envious son.
I met you drunk as a lord at dawn
frocked up for sin and satiety
barefoot and disgraceful
foaming in rage I was trying to find
a taxi I found you universe provides
green and violent in that amazing light
waiting for a damsel in distress
that would be me again but no distress here now.
A battered gardener in a dirty hat
unloading shit from your truck a dog
I liked and stopped to complain to about
me the world and men
you had a wicked smile.
House rule says that I cannot kill a man,
for breathing let alone working I saw
your slow and meticulous hands.
You made me tea in a shack seen better days.
and then you spoke of Scotland and hawking
and now you are mild eyed a little
anxious a bitter wife a cottage in the glen
the child born breathless and blue.
All forged in the tinsel links of memory
so I should say again: Thank you
for my life I did not seem to
want it much that strange morning.
You gave it back anyway.
© Kate McNamara
Kate McNamara is a Canberra based poet, playwright and critical theorist. Her plays have been performed internationally. McNamara delivered the opening address to the Fourth International Conference of Women Playwrights in Galway (2001). She was awarded the H.C Coombs Fellowship at ANU (1991) and elected to the Emeritus Faculty. She won The Banjo Patterson Award for her short story Verity. Her published works include Leaves, The Rule of Zip (AGP) Praxis and The Void Zone (AGP). Her poetry, short fiction and critical theory has been published in a number of anthologies including There is No Mystery (ed. K Kituai, 1998), The Death Mook (ed. Dion Kagan, 2008) These Strange Outcrops (2020) and The Blue Nib (2020) She has also worked extensively as an editor and has only recently returned to her first great love, poetry. McNamara is currently working on The Burning Times.