Valentine in Two Parts
He worked in a nursery, but went home
to a house painted green. Doves came
to nest in soil pots; garden snakes
ate the eggs. There was the occasional lump
of pink mice piled atop the hard dog food, right
before the mother dashed away, a newborn
in her mouth (the rest served up to the dog).
It was in his yard that I first saw guilt flash,
echolalic, upon the inward eye
like mustard smeared on a shirt.
All those dandelions looked at first
like spilt sunshine. Taken in
like a breath without thought.
To sigh is to step on a flower;
to flower is to open wide.
What I remember best is this:
a kind of valentine;
where the calla stamen should be
a fountain pen
shoved in the throat of a lily.
The jay’s territorial quarrel
is not a sonnet.
After an afternoon of rain,
it stops. The afternoon, I mean,
because the rain goes on,
until we awaken, Easter lilies in mud.
The birds are asleep and the flowers
unbedded. No need to correct the stems
as we walk the yard. He turns and I thumb
his mouth in the dark, the isosceles triangle
of his upper lip, cleft chin. A space left
for difference, meaning where corruptions are,
as certain tulip breeds grow feather-fringed
or break like a wine glass because of a virus.
It’s strange what can be beautiful
to the human eye—a bullet hole
punched clean through—
Benjamin Garcia is a CantoMundo fellow who received his MFA from Cornell University. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in: Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review Online, As/Us, West Branch Wired, PANK, and The Collagist. He works for a non-profit as a Community Health Specialist providing HIV/HCV/STD prevention education and testing to higher risk communities throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York State.
This poem appeared in West Branch Wired.