I stand in the somewhat battered plenitude
of my life, a man in his own garden
in the almost middle of May overawed
by the beauty of lime trees.
They form the boundary between two schools
on the other side of the wall,
these tall latecomers into leaf;
and how long have I waited until
the catch in my breath
when I stepped out the back door last night
and they glistened fresh as morning
in the pallor of city lights?
But gazing at them today
in the slightly drunk mid-afternoon,
I am baffled, ill at ease.
How can I hold my ground against this:
lime trees in newest leaf,
gentle arboreal fireworks
showering in stillness,
clusters of leaf-green stars?
Pendulous with their random constellations,
a receding row of universes,
they stand as much beyond
my language as beyond my wall,
and I’m afraid to look at them
much longer, in case I’ll be struck dumb
or spend the rest of my days
gibbering about lime trees.
From The Old Women of Magione (1997)
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