Midnight in the Garden of Envy
It's hot in our bedroom this midnight in June.
The air conditioner died but my wife sleeps on.
She spent the day weeding the garden.
I finally decide to open a window
and pray for a breeze.
No breeze but I hear roses and lilies
arguing about which is the prettier,
which of them deserves more space
in the garden to unfurl their beauty,
petal by petal, like Gypsy Rose Lee.
The peonies mock the roses and lilies,
claiming peonies are the prettiest of all.
The petunias along the borders yell
not to ignore them because they're not tall.
Suddenly there's a ruckus among the hibiscus.
They, too, claim they're the most beautiful.
They want more space, as do the hydrangeas.
The roses decide to offer a compromise.
Tomorrow they promise to count
which flower in the garden attracts
the most butterflies and honeybees.
The flower that attracts the most
will be named the most beautiful
and be given more space in the garden
and won't lose a bloom to bouquets.
The other flowers discuss in a whisper
the compromise offered by the roses.
They take a vote and agree to comply.
Finally, silence returns to the garden.
I tell my wife in the morning to hide out
in the yard with a clipboard to confirm
which flower attracts the most
butterflies and honeybees.
We can't trust the roses, I tell her.
They'll cheat on the final results.
I ask her to keep an eye on the sunflowers
since they didn't join the furor at midnight
over which flower's the most beautiful.
I tell her more butterflies and bees
will visit the sunflowers tomorrow
than any of the others because
sunflowers at noon leap in the air
and kiss every cloud in the sky.
America in 4013
Is that lava or simply mud
dripping from the cheeks
of this old woman asking me
why this library has no books.
I ask her where she's been
for the last 2000 years.
Under a rock? In some cave?
After all, the year is 4013
and now the only book extant
is the Bible and the only copy
of the Bible is in Rome where
a few monks older than she is
sit in catacombs all day
copying pages of it
onto yellow foolscap, hoping
to create another Bible
no one will read, as was the case,
I'm told, when dusty Bibles
were in almost every home
and computers were a luxury.
But then I soften up because
I can see this woman was born
without a cell phone in her ear.
I tell her if she wants to read
something wonderful online,
as soon as a computer comes free
I'll call her even though she has
no cell phone in her ear.
First, however, she must show
a number, not a name,
tattooed above her navel,
the only form of identification
accepted in America in 4013.
Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found at http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com/.