Literature 12-10-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Sharon Chmielarz

What Light: This Week's Poem returns with a bit of winning verse from Sharon Chmielarz selected by What Light judge, Leslie Adrienne Miller.


Garden Scene

        painting by Stanislav Zhukovski, 1873-1944;
        d. in a concentration camp near Warsaw.
        From the collection at The Museum of Russian Art, Mpls.

The garden’s divided in half by a picket fence.
On the closer side, a small table,
clothed and adorned by the useful
cup and tea pot, saucer, spoon,
painted in times when it was possible

to go into the house and find
a plate of bread to carry out.
To sit, to eat, to drink
under an awning of birch leaves,
near a flowerbed wash of swamp-red pinks.

Such a plain scene to fall in love with,
I want to gaze and gaze. It keeps
the heart beating in times of scarcity,
a garden in dreams from across a sea,
where one becomes full merely by remembering.


I was compelled to write Garden Scene after seeing a painting by Stanislav Zhukovski, 1873-1944, in the Museum of Russian Art. It reminded me how beautiful simple things are, a garden table; how we don’t know what things await us outside the garden. Mr. Zhukovski died in the Prushkov Concentration Camp near Warsaw.


Sharon Chmielarz has been a finalist in the National Poetry Series and in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her collections include The Rhubarb King, The Other Mozart, But I Won’t Go Out in a Boat, Different Arrangements, and a chapbook, Stranger in Her House. Her poems have a translated into French and Polish, and appear in two MN 2007 anthologies.