Two Poems

Heirloom Ghazal

We are talking about the impossibility of ever again tasting a true tomato,
we were brought here by your death.
You bring your tomatoes out of the past,
we were brought here by your death.
Some red-dark to the point of purple, green ones
grape-sized, we were brought here by death,
seeds secreted away in envelopes, passed down
to those in the know, an old taste, ancient
design turning out, we were brought here
by your health, in your field the hay bales turn
in on themselves, steaming at the center, I recall my own death,
the fact of it, your fruit needs a dry summer
to earn its true flavor, needs
the struggle, we were brought here
by death; sun leans on the rosemary, raises
the scent; we came back
because of death,
witness, prepare, have days
until the moment
would surprise us, my own
so easy to ignore: who
will gather around my bed? Most of them
not even born yet. Tomatoes
as big as melons,
gnarled, we are on the porch for your death,
pie plates on the vines
to blind birds out.
We were brought here for your death, I remember
waking each day, the strange room,
I was brought here
for one last time.
Packet of shriveled seeds; white, wrinkled.
Every season there’s a moment where you don’t believe
this soft yellow blossom
smaller than a dime
will set fruit
but it does.

Landscape with Encroaching Bulldozer

The roses have been cultivated
for 50 years—grown up
and cut back
to bloom again
when the heat is right.
The one
that grows wild
in parts of Afghanistan
and was brought over
50 years ago, from England, where it had arrived
in 1840, on horseback,
in a burlap sack, across
oceans and continents,
this bloom
no different
from the first.

I would leave the roses
to walk downtown at dusk
and pass a building on the National
Historical Register: Jefferson Davis
had practiced law there. A heavy
iron sign put up
by someone like me, someone who thought
you could remember
everything, and that
if we remembered it all
and held it still…

The rose garden was turned under
in one deep heave of the plow, then
an all-glass visitor center went up.
They would plant new roses
down the hill
but it would never be the same.
And Jefferson Davis
once leased these rooms.
I’m not against history, but

isn’t it impossible? Last night
opening a book I’ve been meaning to read
surprised by my own notes
filling the margins, every symbol
underlined and explained.
I have no memory of the story
but know everything
about its construction
and “deep” meaning.
I must have chosen this life,
but I don’t remember deciding.

Tell everyone I said hello
and that I hope to visit soon,
if not in paragraph
then at least in the margins, in pencil,
something cryptic but intelligent,
the way a rose was brought
to this continent, the way someone once walked
through a room.

Craig Beaven

Craig Beaven's first collection of poems is Natural History, winner of the Gerald Cable First Book Award. His poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2016, Tin House, Third Coast, Pleiades, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and many others. He currently lives with his wife and children in Tallahassee, Florida.