It’s cold, Maria–

this garden of pale gaze,

where broken daisies turn to grays,

misused to drunk mold,

and rusty spites never seem to go far.

Pitiful holes still break the skin,

where squared pearls are forgotten

and uprooted so far,

replaced with two-weighted lips of roses.

It’s cold and barren,

this garden of a woman.

Why do neighbors turn their noses,

like here is a stain on their sheer milked aprons,

as if they have any idea

that decency is foreign as the horizons– and Maria?

Theirs is mistaken.

Sometimes a seed sprouts from the edge,

brimming salt on lashes,

and she stares with flickering iris’ that turn life to ashes,

horrored not avenged,

then takes hold of the neck and chokes,

hands grained dark and scarred.

Bones snap and twist, disarmed,

until life is wilted in sage ropes.

That goodness has no place here,

Maria, where dirt turns to sands of black grain

no one remembers, stained of dewy rain,

where it will surely know regret;

sucking bees who steal honey

and trampling soles of the wrong will crush.

Yet, somehow, they say it’s without any lust–

as if they were before I, Maria, and the sea,

and bloom finds a cease in the winter,

and fingers a way to the surface, sputtering clay,

mouth wide–then snatched and used until decayed,

pink cheeks stripped away in patches like the rest: withered.

A shame, really; cold ground kept them safe out there,

even worth the pleas of Maria.

Free-verse format

A.R. Hansen

Author of Battle of the Mind