Friday, April 04, 2014

The Garden of Envy

Carol Bales Mahoney
—Photo by Donal Mahoney

—Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO

When my wife is in her garden,
she becomes a ballerina
moving with the morning breeze
through hollyhocks and roses,
peonies and phlox.
There is music only she can hear.
It's been that way for 30 years.
I never interrupt her dance

not even when the house caught fire
early in the morning. I didn't holler out
the way another husband might
if he had never had a gardener for a wife.
Instead I called the firemen,
and while they were on their way,
I poured water from the sink
on the growing conflagration.

My efforts proved to be in vain.
The firemen arrived too late and so
the house is now a shell of smoke.
The garden still looks beautiful
yet I have no idea what I'll say 
when my wife comes back inside.
But if she's toting roses to arrange
she may not notice any change.

—Donal Mahoney

Things reach a certain age,
an age at which
things don't work
the way they once did.

The battery in your car,
the battery in your phone,
the battery in your laptop die
but these can be replaced.

Not so the battery in you. 
But today your battery's en fuego
so you tell the wife tonight's the night.
Dinner and a movie first, of course.


—Donal Mahoney

He's getting older
but has a life,
checks his emails,
loves his wife,
likes to know
what she's wearing
Might be pink,
might be white.
Nothing wrong
with either.
But if it's red
or if it's black,
he knows
he better
take a nap.
He'll be up
late tonight.

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Donal Mahoney

We're going dancing, my wife and I,
to a Charity Ball high in the sky where
Glenn Miller's band has been playing
since 1944, the year his plane got lost
over the English Channel.
No wreckage was ever found,
not a single body.
Glenn Miller was going to France
to play for American troops
during World War II.
Government records say
he's still "missing in action."

Maybe so, but I hate to go dancing,
even with music by Glenn Miller.
So I told my wife I'll go if she
can find a dress as red
as the one she wore in 1956
when Father Hennessy said, 
"This is a prom. Not burlesque."
A slip of a girl back then,
she made things worse
with black seamed nylons.
All the rage back then, the nylons
disturbed the padre.

But if my wife can find a bright red dress
and a pair of black seamed nylons,
I'll wear the old seersucker suit
I bought at Macy's for the prom.
It goes real well with the "duck tie"
I found "on sale" for 50 cents 
at the Army Surplus store.
Father Hennessy loved that tie.
Even now I can hear him bellow,
"That tie's so wide the ducks
will fly for 50 years to cross it."
How prescient the padre was.


—Donal Mahoney

Waterbugs scurry
when the light snaps on
at midnight in the bathroom
the way this woman's eyes 
dart when I see her
dancing with a nice man
but not the right man.
He's shorter than I am,

has a neat goatee.
She always knew
my interest would last
once I had gamboled
in the garden of roses
she had been planting
one rose at a time
for a devil like me.

 Bee on Red Sunflower
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Donal Mahoney

It's hot in our bedroom this midnight in June.
The air conditioner died but my wife sleeps on.
She spent the day weeding the garden.
I finally decide to open a window
and pray for a breeze.

No breeze but I hear roses and lilies
arguing about which is the prettier,
which of them deserves more space
in the garden to unfurl their beauty,
petal by petal, like Gypsy Rose Lee.

The peonies mock the roses and lilies,
claiming peonies are the prettiest of all.
The petunias along the borders yell
not to ignore them because they're not tall.
Suddenly there's a ruckus among the hibiscus.
They, too, claim they're the most beautiful.
They want more space, as do the hydrangeas.

The roses decide to offer a compromise.
Tomorrow they promise to count
which flower in the garden attracts
the most butterflies and honeybees.
The flower that attracts the most
will be named the most beautiful
and be given more space in the garden 
and won't lose a bloom to bouquets.

The other flowers discuss in a whisper
the compromise offered by the roses.
They take a vote and agree to comply.
Finally, silence returns to the garden.

I tell my wife in the morning to hide out
in the yard with a clipboard to confirm
which flower attracts the most
butterflies and honeybees.
We can't trust the roses, I tell her.
They'll cheat on the final results.

I ask her to keep an eye on the sunflowers
since they didn't join the furor at midnight
over which flower's the most beautiful.
I tell her more butterflies and bees
will visit the sunflowers tomorrow
than any of the others because
sunflowers at noon leap in the air
and kiss every cloud in the sky.


Today's LittleNip:

—Donal Mahoney

After all these years
my wife at the ironing board,
perfect in panties.



—Photo by Katy Brown