Gardens where there’s no need for a garden

by Penelope Shuttle

For me, it begins with a grandfather consciousness of Russia
and a difficulty of surnames,
smiles in a local kitchen from my alien gold neighbours
and the gladness of their horses

For me, it begins in the dark regions
of vodka and childhood
where the staircase birds share the flight of the child
and a windowsill mother counts
a thousand years
on her exact tongue of black-blood grief

Or it begins, for me, with a master-sleep
with the dog who understands the breast that wears black,
and the hour when a strange
but better than usual guest
comes to call

For me it begins when I step aside
from my own concerns and the dead look at me,
quiet as thimbles,
they look at me from the hushing handheld sky,
its subdued palaces,
the doors all blue and in the wrong places

For me, it begins there

Read Penelope Shuttle’s ‘Behind the poem’ article on ‘Gardens where there’s no need for a garden’