Betsy Sholl


Each evening I believe in the everlasting and fear
by dawn blight will have crept into the garden.
But each morning there you are, watery blossoms
dripping from the lip of multiple green faucets,
a magician’s trick of scarf after soft yellow
and orange scarf rippling from a sleeve.
How to name your layers of petalwork,
your shades of peach, apricot, lemon, goldfinch—
labia it’s all right to look at? Again
and again your bright orange pods burst
into a bush full of canaries, each one singing.
Still, I can’t forget that tyrants tend gardens,
Stalin ordered executions among bright buds
which continued to unfurl. Such fragrant treachery—
or were they earth’s efforts to dissuade?
Clearly, you have no ill will,
so if there’s a judgment, and a witness is needed
to testify against us, let it be you,
before whom the only penance is awe.
O delicate teacups with so many rims
drinking’s unthinkable—
o galaxy of florescent stars fluttering down
on the just and the unjust, long into September.

Betsy Sholl
“Begonia” is from Rough Cradle (Alice James Books, 2009).