The Trouble With Paradise

by Theodosia Henney

I did not tell you
that I come from paradise.

There, the rain leaps
& swirls from the slanted roof
of the old white barn, comes on
with the sound of pebbles, tumbled;
standing on the porch you can hear
the storm approach
across the field.

In paradise, you can look
over the valley at sunset,
see orange diffused in bands
across the sky; laced clouds

fade to wheat-gold, rose, murky lilac,
purple soaked into the skin
of bare oak scrub branches
cloaking the foothills.
Lakes, ditches, puddles
on the dirt road burn silver.

In paradise, my mother keeps bees
& horses, a single greying dog.
The neighbor fattens ducks & garlic,
dahlias, sweet peas, rainbow chard,
sunflowers taller than aspen saplings.
Chokecherries, syrup-dark & plump
as chickadees, shine on bushes
behind the garage. Red & golden currants
grow wild in the shade of cottonwoods;
irrigation ditch gates, concrete & iron,
still rusted shut from winter,
& the massive black hogs
do nothing but sleep.

There are parties
with dandelion wine & porters, hula-hoops
& barbeque, arugula & strawberry served
with wooden salad forks, candles thick as legs
in glass cylinders; usually someone sleeps
on one of the beds drug out
from the blue storage shed
& parked on the veranda for the season.
The rest bicycle home across fields.

I did not tell you
that I come from paradise
because yellow is seeping
into the aspens. Red oak leaves
turn up in the gravel of the drive,
a few at a time, not seeming connected
to the cooling of the air,
the speed of nightfall.

The trouble with paradise,
that will crack your heart to the quick
is, once you leave,
& even if you stay, you can never
truly come back.

 

 

Theodosia Henney is a circus enthusiast who enjoys standing in the spaces between raindrops. She lives in Vermont.