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.