Beneath the ground, the garden dies
back along itself, back toward itself.
The lichen is a handprint
hunkered down to stone.
After long use, language
gives out, like anything else:
words grow loose in their sockets,
break when touched. Meaning burns
in the lodestone, the toad’s alchemical eye;
written as a glyph I’ll never read.
It hurts me, as the frost
scorches the silver stem
of the milkweed, and the garden is unmade.
Now the days themselves recede
from dawn to dawn. The heart’s slow motor
stills. Even the stones retract their moss.
Everything that lives
lives in retreat.