Sunday, January 20, 2013

In the Dark Green Center

English Country House

I pass under the arched entrance to my hedge-maze
and move into its argument of corridors,
running a hand  along the leafy walls, perfectly trimmed.
I love to move like a mouse inside this puzzle for the body, balancing the wish to be lost with the need to be found. 

I continue into the secret patterns of its side-lanes,
savoring the conundrum of every manicured corner and turn.
At the end of a cul-de-sac I sit down on a white bench,
a place to rest and bask in one's befuddlement.

Then I walk on trying to forget the guests I abandoned.
I should be with them now wilting in a lawn chair
and talking over tea and lemon slices instead of watching
clouds pass over this crazy bower, this sweet labyrinth.

But people are not captivating as they were a decade ago
when the famous would come here to follow their diversions,
Stubbs agitating over a sketchbook of Thoroughbreds,
Muybridge outdoors taking photographs of a naked boxer.

I remember Johann Malzel inventing the metronome
in an upper room.  In this soft afternoon light
I remember Roget walking up from the meadow,
his basket full of synonyms, the dogs barking at his clothes.
I remember them all as I stand here in the dark green center.

—Billy Collins

A poem of mazes and amazement, with the kind of whimsy in detail and language that I adore.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Kenilworth

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