Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Poetry Courner

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Going Out To The Garden by Alice Walker

By Norah Christianson

Going Out To The Garden

By -Alice Walker

 

Going out to the garden

this morning

to plant seeds

for my winter greens

—the strong, fiery mustard

& the milder

broadleaf turnip—

I saw a gecko

who

like the rest of us

has been

reeling

from the heat.

 

Geckos like heat

I know this

but the heat

these last few days

has been excessive

for us

& for them.

 

A spray of water

from the hose

touched its skin:

I thought it would

run away.

There are crevices

aplenty

to hide in:

the garden wall

is made of stones.

 

But no

not only

did the gecko

not run away

it appeared

to raise

its eyes

& head

looking for more.

 

I gave it.

 

Squirt after

squirt

of cooling

spray

from the green

garden hose.

 

Is it the end

of the world?

It seemed to ask.

This bliss,

is it Paradise?

 

I bathed it

until we were both

washed clean

of the troubles

of this world

at least for this moment:

this moment of pleasure

of gecko

joy

as I with so much happiness

played Goddess

to Gecko.

 

This lovely poem speaks for itself in very simple language—no allusions, no symbolism, surrealism, abstruseness, etc. In the poem, Walker gives pleasure to the gecko, that small, friendly and docile lizard, and the pleasure she gives, gives her happiness. They are both “…washed clean of the troubles of this world.”  I can’t think of an easier way to experience happiness than to give pleasure to the animals in our world.

Alice Walker was born in 1944 in rural Georgia to sharecropper parents. She is a novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist. Walker participated in the Civil Rights Movement, advocated for women of color, and has been involved in animal advocacy and pacifism. She is a judge member of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. Walker won the Pulitzer Prize—the first African-American woman to do so—for her novel “The Color Purple.”

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