The Lost Garden by Dana Gioia
If ever we see those gardens again,
The summer will be gone--at least our summer.
Some other mockingbird will concretize
Among the mulberries, and other vines
Will climb the high brick wall to disappear.
How many footpaths crossed the old estate--
The gracious acreage of a grander age--
So many trees to kiss or argue under,
And greenery enough for any mood.
What pleasure to be sad in such surroundings.
At least in retrospect. For even sorrow
Seems bearable when studied at a distance,
And if we speak of private suffering,
the pain becomes part of a well-turned tale
Describing someone else who shares our name.
Still, thinking of you, I sometimes play a game.
What if we had walked a different path one day,
Would some small incident have nudged us elsewhere
The way a pebble tossed in a brook
Might change the course a hundred miles downstream?
The trick is making memory a blessing,
To learn by loss the cool subtraction of desire,
Of wanting nothing more than what has been,
to know the past forever lost, yet seeing
Behind the wall a garden still in blossom.
So much of what we live goes on inside--
The diaries of grief, the tongue-tied aches
of unacknowledged love are no less real
For having passed unsaid. What we conceal
Is always more than what we dare confide.
Think of the letters that we write our dead.