The Garden Where Everything Matters
It’s too late now to see color at the Arboretum,
only the moonlight in a dark and silent world
of trees, sage, flowers, stream, grass, and mulch.
I walk among the labeled specimens, a shadow of myself.
I have been studying all day, all week, all month,
then tested and retested, until I am filled with fear and loathing.
Anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, immunology.
Information: I am buried beneath it.
Medical training is the line that drags me, gags me, tags me,
like a fish caught on a hook, gasping on the dock.
I have been running—a duck among leopards—
straining to keep up, my wings forgotten.
What has become of me?
I have died and no one cares.
But tonight I return to pay my respects,
to the tender part of me that is gone.
I knew this garden once when it glowed in the sunlight,
and breezes blew through cherry blossoms and rippled the stream.
I watched the bright koi swim among the clouds reflected in the water,
and the rhythm of my heart felt as tranquil as my breath.
Can the dead recreate life's tapestry with just one thread?
I am wasting my time. This doesn't matter.
Then a thought arrived as if it were my own:
A bolus of awareness fills me, and i vanish.
I become this Presence and am its knowing.
It lifts me and the moment out of space-time
and illuminates my soul with solace and peace.
Over time, the rigors of training transform
many doe-eyed healers into tin soldiers,
marching smartly in line, doing what they're told,
stoic under stress and numb to feeling.
I visit the garden to wander through who I am.
Its fragrance, beauty, and peace shelter me
and nurture the sacred within my soul,
where sensitivity and creativity grow.
Decades pass, and yet I cherish still
the space the arboretum saved for me:
a place where everything matters,
and the invisibles flourish and flower.
Alice W. Lee