“The Garden You Called Eden” by Julie Pratt

“The Garden You Called Eden”

By Julie Pratt

You return to me across a chasm in time since
we last sat in your kitchen, curtains quivering in
the warm breeze, my skin damp from cutting grass
with your old hand mower, the scent of peonies
you picked that morning and of toasted cheese
sandwiches and sliced ripe pears.

Remember? you whisper, and I do — the garden
you called Eden, consuming your small backyard,
and the magnolia you planted the year I was born,
your first granddaughter, delighted each spring
when the tree touted its pink blossoms
with petals the size of a child’s hand.

I conjure the coooo-woo-woo-woo of the
mourning doves you drew to your stoop with
millet and corn. Nature was your pleasure and duty
more than it was your dominion. You revered all
living things, each one laced into the whole as
perfectly as the scarves you crocheted.

I remember the day you cleared the cans
of Black Flag from your shed after learning
about DDT and the dead birds. You said it was up
to my generation to save the earth —
a tall order and one we have blundered,
leaving a legacy of fire and flood.

I long for one more lunch at your kitchen table.
I’d ask what you think would have happened
if a woman had written Genesis. Would the fruits
of knowledge be a blessing and leaving Eden
a rite of passage? What if the only true offense is
not using our wisdom in service to the world?

Julie Pratt is a poet inspired by nature and by people working to change themselves and the world for the better. She worked for many years as a facilitator and writer for nonprofit organizations. Later in life, she earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Her poems have appeared in Passager, Persimmon Tree and ONE ART: a journal of poetry. She lives with her partner in Charleston, West Virginia.

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