‘Eden’, Stephen Whitehead

Illustration © 2020 Valeria Vitale



 [ Green giant, © 2020 Valeria Vitale ] The garden giant flexes their green muscles
Mosses muting the hiss of sap-hydraulics
Pushing through glowing stem channels.
Their vine-bound form rises, creaking
The network of plants settling around the hot core—
A pulsing, rotting, living heart—
A compost soul.
Steaming in the winter air (permanent winter—
Nuclear winter)
They move from tree to bush to seedling,
Huge fleshy fingers gently brushing and fussing
At leaves and branches and soil.
The collected environment of their body
Communicating the world around them.
Now and then a plant is delicately plucked
From the rich, dark earth and lifted, glinting
Before being carefully planted
Into the garden giant’s being.
So they grow—new skin, stronger bones
Bigger teeth.
Dying matter is ingested, feeding the inner fire
But the garden grows stronger,
Cleaning the soil, the air, the water.
One day the garden giant will move on,
Leave the paradise they’ve nurtured,
And find themselves a scorched dead place
On which to lie down—
Never again to rise.
Their body will break apart, plants tumbling
Rooting in the slowly cooling hummus of their heart.
And one day, the right speck of pollen
Dancing in the air with the right spore
Falling together in the right bacterial dust
Will birth a new garden giant.
They will labour, grow and flourish
Build yet another Eden
And walk out into the winter
Until there is no winter left.


© 2020, Stephen Whitehead

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