the day you let us in the garden

the day you let us in the garden
the city’s asphalt blocks were all freshly greyed
steaming from the big warm morning storm

we’d been roving with flutes tucked and
glowing in our bags looking for the spot
we knew we’d know when we saw it
through the ivied, iron bars –a locked, lush square
set in the redbrick highwalls of your fancy garden

oh how the kumquats dolloped in the cornertrees
and the bushes snaggled and the vines wound
and the butterflies paid their respects to a moldy St. Francis
his face set in an infectious expression of peace

the whole crescent city sprawled wildly out behind us
but we longed to be locked within that verdant cell
like reciprocal prisoners, we peered in, sulking,
fingering the wrought-iron bars like flutes,
humming along with the blub of the ancient fountain

bee-loud minutes went by
before you came around the ivy-coiled corner to ask
your miracle rhetorical question
do you want to go into the garden?
, we said anyway, thinking, lucky you

for little did you know how we would thank you in our finest trills
thrilling all your bed and breakfasters with
Mystery Flute Music which would echo
off your gated balconies with their hearty potted plants
how each and every tourist passerby
would peer in with delight at the fairy-kind
you’d let into the garden that greyest of days
and walk away with a story rich as their etoufees

we knew you would soon come out again
merry and gracious as we’d been when you let us in
double-palming glasses of dark red wine
which we’d sip as you slipped us your quaint business card
lithographed with the fleurs-de-lis
and offered us two jobs, one each, as Garden Flutists
who maybe polished up St. Francis now and then

oh, how we played, brighter, louder, with much vibrato,
readying ourselves to accept your offer
and move to New Orleans for the summer
to study the scales among the morning glories
we’d take your extra upstairs bedroom
small but richly furnished
with velvet red curtains and dark wood floors

ah, by August, we’ll be fixtures in the place
spending easy evenings in the library
after dining on your wife’s famous cooking
thrilling all your famous guests
with our vagabond stories

it just won’t be the same without you
you’ll say as we pack up our old-fashioned suitcases
and your wife hands us the pralines and warm French bread
she’ll bake us for our journey home on a train
next year? you’ll practically beg
well, we’ll be in touch we’ll have to say

a lukewarm gust will blow us down Chartres street
while you and all the guests watch, waving
we’ll be trailed for blocks by a drove of smitten butterflies
and leave a strange and tender silence in our wake

come winter,
your bushes’ dry gnarling
will seem ever-bleaker
in their flutelessness…

ah, well, where were you anyway? we wondered, almost worried–
so we swirled our harmonies in the heavy air
a little louder, one last time
and the pretty fountain turned iridescent
and the moss shone brighter…

but you didn’t come–there was only silence
and then the sound of a kumquat-drop
doesn’t he know Magic is hard to come by nowadays?
plop, plop

we packed up our flutes
and locked up the garden

at a cafe down the street

we unloaded handful after handful
of the kumquats we’d pilfered for payment

we squeezed them into our ice-waters
until each glass
was so cool and bright

we decided to call it even


Bonny McDonald

Used with permission of the poet.

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