in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
“Flower in the Crannied Wall”
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Daylilies, lavender, and dianthus
push through sidewalk cracks
next to abandoned factories in dying towns,
reaching for the heaven above the heavens
against all odds on the craps table
that wreaks havoc with the ceaseless circadian.
Old men play chess in the park,
knowing they are checkmated
before they shuffle to the bench
like pawns moving one square or two
into an opening gambit of graves.
The commuter from New Rochelle
folds his paper and stares through the train window,
unable to recall whether he kissed his wife lately
because his memory meanders like a stream.
Rusted farm equipment from the forties
sits on foreclosed acres of bindweed and nettles.
Oh, but it was good when it was good,
with tube radios, freckled children, and fireside chats
fertilizing crops by some sleight of hand
known only to carnival barkers and God.
Lovers kiss as they stroll down the avenue,
oblivious to disapproving stares
while holy men knotted into a lotus quietly meditate
and sunlight slides across a lazy gecko
paying rent on a white Arizona rock.
And then there are the poor and lowly,
who have been diagrammed below the sentence,
yearning only for the syntax of warm beds.
All of these vignettes are short stories and poems,
no more than aspiring asterisks
fallen to the bottom of yellowed pages
in basement archives where silence
is given perpetual lease.
But all are redeemed from oblivion’s yoke,
ransomed from insult and lavender’s decay.
Raindrops quench the daylily’s thirst,
for the first shall be last
and the last shall be first.