A Poem And A Picture

Ostinato Rigore

As slowly as possible, I said,
and we went into paradise.
Rushes alternate with floating islands
of tomatoes. Stretches of lily pads
and then lotus. The kingfishers
flash and go into the lake,
making a sound in the silence.
After, I can hear her breathing.
The Japanese built gardens eight
hundred years ago as a picture
of the Pure Land, because people
could not imagine a happy life.
My friend lives on the Delaware River
and fashions Eden out of burned
buildings that were the Automats
of his youth in New York.
Another designs a country 
with justice for everyone.
I know a woman who makes heaven
out of her body. I lie in the smell
of water, with the sun going down,
trying to figure out this painful 
model I have carpentered together.

- Jack Gilbert


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