Nathaniel Tarn


Despite determinations of the landscape, soil’s

poverty, absence of shade, harassments of the 

blinding sun, I have persisted here toward my 

pride’s fulfillment in a rose garden. This grace

sits on the land -- jewels at neck, wrists, ankles

of a tan princess. Piñons and junipers, oaks, hill

mahogany: green of a robe, the only one she’ll

fancy,  throughout history. History here is almost,

as it were, eternity (though we know not), under

our single time to do and love. After more work 

this year than any previous, rewards have been

beneficent.  Blooms have erupted suddenly and

almost all together. They have their seasons, as

the local plants, dependent on shared weathers,

a unity of all variables. The major difference 

though: roses, maidenly-like, bud mornings; by

evening, they have blown out of all proportions. 

After very few days, not more than a lean week,

the desert tan prevails again. I have had one rare

chance at a glass of buds on desk -- no more than

four, where joy surprised in prehistoric days was

weeks of vases. It’s what I love, what I have al-

ways done, what has sustained my life, sustains

love still. Flower’s perfections, more than the 

bird’s (which moves, whistles, can often speak),

is hope-- in its most elementary statement ever.

Far back as I recall: the “pitty flower” I demanded

on any visit, small humanoid, inspecting gardens like

an emperor’s gardener in whatever lieu we traveled.

Reminds me: other dilemmas, decorations, laborsome

situations: time’s throaty laughter, tragedy’s ransoms. 

Outside dead wars grind on into the barren sunsets, all

wars now frying heaven’s roses in globalizing deserts.


Bad year for hummers! -- everyone says so. They

do not come to feeders. Experts say “Oh breeding

season, or weather weird” or otherwise. Bummed, 

ill-humored, command the dwarfs to visit garden.

Black-chinned hummer finally accesses feeders

and I address him, in the very eyes, “Tell yr. ami-

gos you either come here trooping or I shall find 

you in the bush and make hummingbird-sandwich.

Peace in the land! I am not truly cannibal! I swear

this is the sole antagonistic feeling felt today. The

art of gardening (I am in full discovery) is done by

instinct, not armchair knowledge, the constant ob-

servation, over as much as years, of the behaviors

of different plants, patience as great as Jove’s for

any does not make it in a given year -- with joy at

causing it to prosper some year after this. The art

is one as pleasing as any can be named and also is

a healing art -- the concentration and the sweating 

being such -- it is impossible to dwell on great but

altogether meaner matters. And healing, not alone

to doctor here as to the patients -- so some good’s

done, (if not to wounded and disheartened people,

homeless and countryless, jobless and foodless, as

are the vasty millions we are supposed to feed by

frequent answers to frequent beggings in the mail)

but to the songless and yet sentient plants smiling

at us with blossom or with leaf. Ergo, since these

good deeds always require one or more witnesses,

I summon ye the hummers from the immensities

lying out there in alpine desert, alpine rock. Dam-

mit! gods, at the poet’s call, no longer can descend,

finding themselves to be deficient in the clothing

of existence. So Nature must provide her testimony 

to my fresh-minted kindnesses and re-wired joys.

Let hummers come in then or perish in a sandwich.


The sages of aforetime, muttering: “the canniest

among us: those who said they didn’t know. Now

we say this a dozen times a morning -- but it’s not

wise, no -- merely ignorance of how the thousand

things (make it ten thousand a la Cinese) can ever

possibly turn out. When will the war end? How? 

Nation end? But how? The planet end? But how?

When will the leaders die, throttled for their sins,

the angles of their mouths slit to the grimace-grin

denotes the groveling apologies they never issued

while still alive? Thinkings interrupted -- the dog, 

must exit: sniff, shit, vision, atmosphere. Old now,

sniffs round a rhizome, freezing, staring out, for-

getful -- but does not spot a thing so infinitely

minuscule I cannot figure how to link it to my

ignoramusness. I see it as a baby rabbit, minute,

so very baby, it’s hardly had the time to sniff one

sniff of this dear world. So: what’s the valuation

of one baby rabbit? Compared, for instance, to a 

single preemie ceasered out of a mother’s womb,

the mother just now shot? Is there up there among

the clouds one entity personalized who counts the

rabbits born each second on these rabbit-bearing

planets (for we are not alone), prepares for each a

golden coronet, a pair of wings in the best rabbit

fur (dyed white), a minute harp delightfully melo-

dious? So that they sing, the rabbits in the divine

upstairs that never could sing anything below. And,

interspersed with them, the singing prematures? I

feel a dozen times a day I do not know. The world

has now become so complex, there is no answer --

no answering at all: -- “You know, I do not know.”