Pinochet’s Garden

by Katrina Naomi

Punctured gasps of bog cotton in the marsh by the stream
only he knew the way through. He liked his knowledge.
He had the gardeners dowse selected plants on the hour,
every hour, calibrating which were the last to droop.

He admired cacti for their instinct, their endurance,
liked the sweat of his greenhouse, the heat forced to its limit.
He logged what could survive, beyond the open
mouths of orchids. He knew all their Latin names.

As a boy, he’d snipped the heads off lilies, now
he wanted beauty, found comfort in the red wounds of roses.
One task he retained; no one was allowed to shoo the birds
from the lawn. He hung his catapult from a hook.

His blooms won prizes. His soil, rich. Bone meal rich.