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This poem is taken from PN Review 99, Volume 21 Number 1, September - October 1994.

Four Poems Christopher Middleton

The Gardener in the Basilica
The gardener in the Basilica, he stoops
To cut and lift the grass roots;
Little billhook in his grip he hacks what sprouted
Round the odds and ends at random:
Broken fluted column, writing,
A coffered rose, a marble sun.

While he cuts he whistles.
Same tune, over and over. Headscarf in the wind,
Down his back it flutters. Then he stoops,
As if born bent double. Face down,
He only sees a blur of marble forms;
He smells the wild pig smell of grass,
And smelling it he knows the weight of time.

Headscarf fluttering, hood of flame, fed by resin,
Colour of the buried time, round his head,
...


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