Midnight in the Garden of Envy
It's hot in our bedroom this midnight in June.
The air conditioner died but my wife sleeps on.
She spent the day weeding the garden.
I finally decide to open a window
and pray for a breeze.
No breeze but I hear roses and lilies
arguing about which is the prettier,
which of them deserves more space
in the garden to unfurl their beauty,
petal by petal, like Gypsy Rose Lee.
The peonies mock the roses and lilies,
claiming peonies are the prettiest of all.
The petunias along the borders yell
not to ignore them because they're not tall.
Suddenly there's a ruckus among the hibiscus.
They, too, claim they're the most beautiful.
They want more space, as do the hydrangeas.
The roses decide to offer a compromise.
Tomorrow they promise to count
which flower in the garden attracts
the most butterflies and honeybees.
The flower that attracts the most
will be named the most beautiful
and be given more space in the garden
and won't lose a bloom to bouquets.
The other flowers discuss in a whisper
the compromise offered by the roses.
They take a vote and agree to comply.
Finally, silence returns to the garden.
I tell my wife in the morning to hide out
in the yard with a clipboard to confirm
which flower attracts the most
butterflies and honeybees.
We can't trust the roses, I tell her.
They'll cheat on the final results.
I ask her to keep an eye on the sunflowers
since they didn't join the furor at midnight
over which flower's the most beautiful.
I tell her more butterflies and bees
will visit the sunflowers tomorrow
than any of the others because
sunflowers at noon leap in the air
and kiss every cloud in the sky.
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
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