In the Bonnefont Cloister Garden

There are eight groups of usefulness in a Medieval garden.

1. Household.


alone beneath the not-yet-budded quince you walked
head ducked, arms tucked behind you
I took quiet pictures, thinking:
someone ought to look at him, someone
ought to see!
it might as well be me.

2. Medicine (Poison).

the night before the Cloisters, there on the parquet floor
the ritual of divorce:
my mother told her story, you yours
I danced to tin-canned drumming, gibbering deliberately
we flung open doors, windows
chased demons, yipping
burnt sage, banged pots, clanged pans
ate ice cream, fell
exhausted onto couch and camping mats, awoke
laughing
the next morning.

something. something had occurred.

3. Aromatic.

two moments:

that time I thought:
“Don’t cling too close; let him walk his way, choose his favorite door: monastic or cathedral, flamboyant or unicorn, oak or stone or iron . . .”

then, within the hour:
“Ah! But he is happy in my company. Content with the capitals and corbels I stop to admire. He did not come to this place with friends to wander alone.”

later, sipping tea
in the long dim cool of Cloister Cafe
I was so bold to say:
“May I put my feet on your chair?”

suddenly,
the space was clear.

4. Kitchen and Seasoning.

after the Cloisters
you took us out to Ivan Ramen
the Gourmet Noodle, the Sacred Bowl of Orkin
blow-your-brains-out-best-of-NYC
the starstuff of celebrity
I sat beside my mother, our elbows
constantly communicating
you, opposite us both, watching
watching everything as with my wineglass, I grew warm
grew rosy and outrageous, also somehow less
able to keep eye-contact
you were smiling, a direct beam
such a look as I had never seen

5. The Arts.

A series of Facebook messages:

I want to be a tree when I die, I said. Put my ashes in an eco-urn, I said, and turn me into a tree.

Bullshit, you said. I want to be a dragon when I die. Where’s the eco-urn that does that?

It’s the tree that turns into a dragon when it dies. It’s a process.

Ah, I was being a shithead–but you turned it into poetry!

Sarcasm and poetry go hand in hand. Either one makes the other more interesting. Do you want to collaborate? We could write a story . . .

Shall you start, or shall I?

6. Love and Marriage.

neither of us believed in the institute of marriage. we didn’t even have rings, not then. in the end, all we brought with us to the justice of peace was:

a.) my best friend
b.) a fountain pen
c.) an orangutan marionette
d.) a panda mask
e.) a collapsable top hat
f.) a parasol

and our judge was jolly, and she laughed for joy, and she said, “By the power vested in me by the State of New York,” and 393 years of history rushed over me, and she was gargantuan, a giantess, and you were as you always have been–the exception to my rule–wearing a plaid shirt and an expression like the first burst of magnolia blooms, and Mir was our witness, and our signatures were sure, and then it was over, cake pops at Starbucks

7. Magic.

there has been
death since then, most ruinous
meteoric ascension of vocations
exponential increase of community
hard labor, swift deadlines
new music, new instruments to play it on
adoration, anxiety, banquets, baguettes
Paris and Venice, picnics, books read
philosophies discovered, poems plastered on walls
poems telling me, over and over:
there will be plenty, love, plenty
when I, gasping
fear going empty

and if I weep more now than when I met you, love
it is because the world is so much dearer
I am not so at ease with leaving it
as I was before

8. Salad.

something you told me lately:
you do not love a side-salad.
no, no, you insisted, let’s make a dinner of it!
make it interesting.
white lemon balsamic vinegar. chickpeas. avocado. almonds. arugula.
put it in a single bowl.
you love bowl food.
you’ll eat anything in a bowl.

astonishing.
four years, and I’ve only just learnt this.
what’s next?
what will I love most next?

Carlos Hernandez, Poet
To My Love When Love Began, by Carlos Hernandez

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