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Eden

Eden

by David Woo

  • Yellow-oatmeal flowers of the windmill palms
  • like brains lashed to fans-
  • even they think of cool paradise,
  • Not this sterile air-conditioned chill
  • or the Arizona hell in which they sway becomingly.
  • Every time I return to Phoenix I see these palms
  • as a child’s height marks on a kitchen wall,
  • taller now than the yuccas they were planted with,
  • taller than the Texas sage trimmed
  • to a perfect gray-green globe with pointillist
  • lavender blooms, taller than I,
  • who stopped growing years ago and commenced instead
  • my slow, almost imperceptible slouch
  • to my parents’ old age:
  • Father’s painful bend- really a bending of a bend-
  • to pick up the paper at the end of the sidewalk;
  • Mother, just released from Good Samaritan,
  • curled sideways on a sofa watching the soaps,
  • an unwanted tear inching down
  • at the plight of some hapless Hilary or Tiffany.
  • How she’d rail against television as a waste of time!
  • Now, with one arthritis-mangled hand,
  • she aims the remote control at the set
  • and flicks it off in triumph, turning to me
  • as I turn to the trees framed in the Arcadia door.
  • Her smile of affection melts into the back of my head,
  • a throb that presses me forward,
  • hand pressed to glass. I feel the desert heat
  • and see the beautiful shudders of the palms in the yard
  • and wonder why I despised this place so,
  • why I moved from city to temperate city, anywhere
  • without palms and cactus trees.
  • I found no paradise, as my parents know,
  • but neither did they, with their eager sprinklers
  • and scrawny desert plants pumped up to artificial splendor,
  • and their lives sighing away, exhaling slowly,
  • the man and woman
  • who teach me now as they could not before
  • to prefer real hell to any imaginary paradise.