The Meaning of Objects
Do not dismiss her garden’s plentitude,
her singular yard—dolphins leaping,
a plastic horse’s head, silly white girls
with urns of treated water, arbors, arches, allées,
the gardening fetish of aristocracy come again.
Do not dismiss her radical appropriations,
the culturally iconic in conversation
with the vernacular, or her investigation
of public space, privacy, and the markers of class.
That a plain Black woman might speak back to Fanon—
“I found I was an object in the midst of other
objects—” and so shape her yard with Goodwill bounty,
with the rummage of yard sales and alleyways,
makes and remakes, from cast-offs and wrack,
as these bodies, the stories say, are made from stardust,
from the mud and lonely, lonely of the unseen.
Do not dismiss her plantings: sedum for peace,
pink roses for gratitude, the plastic ivies
and plastic greens, I know I have to die but
I don’t want to go before I have to, plastic
and evergreen, and so denial, so hope. Or
those private meanings, I planted that tree
the year Daddy died, and the cedar planted
on her daughter’s birthday. Old folks
used to say Cut it and you’ll die too.
Do not dismiss what she contained or
tied back, or the field stones, heavy and red,
set like fists around anything lovely.
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