Journal » Trout 17 » Gardens [Sarah Jane Barnett]
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Sarah Jane Barnett

John trims the low shrubs by the rustic stone wall
so they are the focal point of the side lawn. He kneels

on the ground, on a tartan rug, and looks like he is crossing
himself, snipping from side to side. The genuflection

is an unconscious act, the companion of orderliness.
“John, can you hear me?”—an ascent through rock.

He wants to start a business with vegetables, a small
stall at the farmer's market or organic boxes delivered to homes.

He says this with one gumboot up on the wall in a groove
he has leant in before, which came first is unsure

but the rock is not local. It's luck that has kept them alive,
he says as he waves his secateurs toward the top lawn

where the hollyhock, foxglove, viola, pansy and peony
rot in beds like a fungal infection or bad teeth.


The train orders the view of the Chilean countryside.
The man in the opposite seat wears a bomber jacket and dark

glasses. He appears asleep—at least dozing—but then surfaces
and twitches and looks relieved. His hand grips the handle

of a phone the size of a briefcase, the leather patterned
with the image of a fox's head. I had toothaches, constipation

and withdrawal from tobacco, he says, later. I don't want to mine
him for information. I try to relax. I take in the view

as he strokes the fox with one thumb. When I got out I thought
I would grow my own food, he says. I nod as he crosses himself
to find his lighter and cigarettes.


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© Copyright 2012 Sarah Jane Barnett & Trout.