The Lost Garden by Dana Gioia

The Lost Garden

If ever we see those gardens again, The summer will be gone—at least our summer. Some other mockingbird will concertize Among the mulberries, and other vines Will climb the high brick wall to disappear.

How many footpaths crossed the old estate— The gracious acreage of a grander age— So many trees to kiss or argue under, And greenery enough for any mood. What pleasure to be sad in such surroundings.

At least in retrospect. For even sorrow Seems bearable when studied at a distance, And if we speak of private suffering, The pain becomes part of a well-turned tale Describing someone else who shares our name.

Still, thinking of you, I sometimes play a game. What if we had walked a different path one day, Would some small incident have nudged us elsewhere The way a pebble tossed into a brook Might change the course a hundred miles downstream?

The trick is making memory a blessing, To learn by loss the cool subtraction of desire, Of wanting nothing more than what has been, To know the past forever lost, yet seeing Behind the wall a garden still in blossom.

From Interrogations at Noon

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