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“The Columbine: Terri in Her Garden”

Book Excerpt: The Heart as Framed

The Columbine: Terri in Her Garden

The silence within each word, the simple syntax of wind
whispered against the chimes, the owl’s answers echoed
in the dark spaces dappling the immense, impossible sky
between stars, drifting as they have since the beginning,
everything becoming only what it will become, though
I could not have seen that in 1996 under the tree I still
can’t name, nor most of the flowers you plant except
the red columbine, little lanterns lighting what we believe in,
the earth that returns what we give it, those transplanted
gardens of your dreams, the star that watches over
your face each night through the window, itself drifting
through time to disappear just as the morning doves
cloak the day’s news, a world that hovers like the invisible
black holes that perforate the center of our galaxy,
what the untranslatable words of your sleep also cloak,
so that I should touch you as softly as that starlight did,
for it is true that every star wants to be the daylight,
every flower, every word wants to blossom the love
it harbors, showing a way like the light of your columbine
whose seeds will migrate next Spring into galaxies of color
we never expected, constellations that can whisper this love.

“The Columbine: Terri in Her Garden”

Copyright © 2022 by Richard Jackson. Excerpted from The Heart as Framed: New and Select Poems (Press 53). Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Richard Jackson has published 16 books of poetry, including Where the Wind Comes From (2021), Take Five (2020), and Broken Horizons (2018). Since 1976, he has been teaching at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he directs the Meacham Writers’ Workshop.

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