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What's Left of the Secret Garden?


What's left of the secret garden?
Emily Cooper

Old Man Gardener is waiting,
Waiting for the children to return.
He fights with the clouds, tugs them into shape,
Prunes back the years, to keep everything as it was.
He's replaced the wooden swing twice,
And prays they won't notice.

They visit on a perfect summer afternoon.
They bring their children, and are children no longer.
They laugh with twinkling eyes,
A joke he doesn't understand.
Their children do not care for the garden.
They yawn as he shows them the secret places,
Trample the flowers, stray from the paths,
and leave early before the tea and jam.

He sits by the large tree and tells himself it was a dream.
He ignores the torn petals scattered on the paths.
'They will visit again,' he says,
'And this time it will be right.'

He goes back to his work,
But at noon he has to sit down.
The garden is spinning.

He does not stir again,
But dreams his favorite dream,
and the seasons change once more,
to a winter that will not end.

* * *

Emily Cooper is a recent graduate of Nottingham University, and has always fallen in love easily with the beautifully strange and strangely beautiful. Her current goals include improving her copywriting, learning the flute, and inventing a machine which adds an hour to each day.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a fantasy poem? 

For me, the most important thing about fantasy is that it takes us out of ourselves to a place where we can believe anything. In this fantasy space, we can discuss difficult issues which happen in reality; identity, loss, companionship. I have had the most success lately with poems and prose which have been based on my feelings of nostalgia for my childhood. This is no surprise to me, as I've been in the working world for two years now. Writing and reading fantasy is how I make sense of my own reality. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

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