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Sandra McPherson: Garden Monk

—  Lucien Stryk, Davis, California, 1988

Concentric and contemplative,

he was —  on my gardened ag-land — 

not meditating on the wit

of the lemon, almond, toyon,

the tense, explosive wisteria,

or flannel bush, when I could see him;

nor on the decency of the peach,

halcyon apricot, long-nosed whiff of bay,

bulb of orange, when I could not.


His head appeared — implying

slow counter-clockwise timing

of the feet and then his hair

would disappear until he’d meet

the top of the counterclock again.


His mind was one where at a time:

the peppertree, the Jeffrey, the panoramic

sugar egg of guava petals

drew him out from a penumbra.

An apple set him in the sun.

but he named none.


So what if he missed them all in winter.

Cold bark, a pearly procrastination of sky.


I’ve thought, residing on this ring,

anything there is a god for

there is a human for;

anything there is a human for

there is an insect for —  

there are six good legs for a mantis case

tied to a shrub twig,

and a mouth for every nectarine

and serenity for every loop

that strings your laces together walking it . . . .

From Certain Uncollected Poems, Ostrakon Press, 2012.

Lucian Stryk’s Grave in Highgate Cemetery, London
A Zen garden

2 comments on “Sandra McPherson: Garden Monk

  1. chucktaylorauthor
    August 19, 2019

    I knew Lucien Stryk in Illinois and communicated with him by letter when he was in London. This poem means a lot to me. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandra McPherson
      August 19, 2019

      How very nice. My late husband loved him & his work, so we brought him to read at UCDavis. Lovely person.

      Liked by 1 person

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