The Garden of Earthly Delights

by Rachel J. Fenton





I. The Man in the Bowler Hat


Wounded pictures

wait noiselessly in the field tent

of our bathroom,


open windowed,

where powder light hovers as icing dust

particulates filtered


through the white nylon curtain

hanging like a drunk

from the chrome rail, one foot


in the tub: half the shower rings are bust,

their sickle forms

collected by the trap,


clinical waste.

And usually I'm left alone to tend

my patients but today


you want to know,

today you've ventured in, your thoughts

unmasked to ask:


what's that you're painting?

I load my brush with titanium

acrylic: an answer.



II. Destroyed Object


The artist is a poet.

The artist is all ear, eye and heart.

The artist sits alone to rebuild the moments


from myriad perspectives.

The artist has a partner.

The artist's partner is also a poet: he sits


writes his poems in his head

and keeps them there.



III. Cannibal Feast


When I come to suck fresh raspberries'

juice from your hair

pressing the clasp of my mouth's purse

on the oyster of your ear;


when I bring you morsels dripping syrup

from my mother's lips

to tempt the dormant hunger from the tip-

wrecked freezer of your belly,


know the table is set,

the cupboard's empty.



IV. Four Hours of Summer, Hope


It isn't the loss, it isn't the grief,

it's humiliation,

a joke in the worst taste

when your hopes and dreams, your family,

end up in a yellow bag of clinical waste

along with your mistakes.