“The Sharpened Shears He Plied” by Rhina P. Espaillat

Rhina P. Espaillat


The sharpened shears he plied
hang useless on the wall,
now that he’s gone away,
almost as if they sense—
and mourn—the difference.

The shrubs he used to trim
have swelled, shapeless and dense,
and weeds he kept at bay—
creeper, tendril and limb—
run rampant through the fence.

But no, tools don’t recall
the gardener who died,
and these green things don’t care.
No thing remembers him.
How difficult to bear.

from Rattle #54, Winter 2016
2016 Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist

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Rhina P. Espaillat: “What a comfort to believe, as the Romantics seemed to, that shared settings and common possessions are somehow sympathetic and attuned to our losses! But the experience of, for example, widowhood, forces us to acknowledge an internal solitude, a human absence, that only sentient beings can understand or allay.”

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