The Japanese Garden
by Ron Padgett
In 1958 or ’59 when I was sixteen
I came up with the idea
of replacing my parents’ backyard
with a Japanese garden—
this in a middle-class neighborhood
of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I even showed a design to my mother,
who tried to imagine her smooth green lawn
replaced by rocks, gravel,
and, somehow, a stream.
Even before she said diplomatically
I’ll show this to your daddy
I saw that the whole idea was unrealistic,
and I put out my hand for the drawing,
relieved to be denied.
But what if my parents had gone on
not only to put in the garden
but also to demolish our house
and replace it with a Japanese one,
donned kimonos and learned Japanese,
my dad strutting among the pines like a samurai,
mother on bended knees, head bowed?
The house stayed the same, the grass grew
and got mowed, I went away to college,
my parents divorced.
Now someone else lives there,
happy among the cherry blossoms that never fall.
From Collected Poems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Coffee House Press, 2013, page 673.