Envy — An Elegy

by Neeli Cherkovski

envy is a flower in bloom
on this languid day in March
after the rain dahlias
have gone mad, people

embrace the air, tendrils reach
across the heart, people dine
on greed, cast wary eyes
toward Elysium fields

eyes filled with images
of torture, the collective soul
trampled by armored cars, envy
cuts deep, it is difficult to sleep

I sit in the garden thinking
nothing more than this, leaves
and branches, fences and hoses, flies
and a hummingbird, wire chair

what luminosity, perhaps
in some other garden one would find
statuary, a chapel, four orange trees
a circle of rose bushes, o envy

you are so kind, you seem to cling
to everything, there is no escape
from your probing soul, no way to hide
when you walk through the garden

like a magician, you even have a wand
that turns into a snake, you pretend
to be selective, we see you leaping
into the neighbor’s yard, you slept

in Picasso’s studio, you ate from
Lao Tzu’s bowl, you died with Joan
of Arc, you rose with Jesus, you sailed
with Columbus, you ruled with the Inca

you water the dahlias, you rake
the leaves, you have no doubts about
the human race, it admires you, it
envies you, it clings, you see how

it has awakened to the sun, slept
under the moon, dreamed
and written many books, it makes
music, driven by envy

melodic, it waits by the stream
and crosses at the right time
fendingoff the animals, able to
puff up with pride, to write songs

of praise, to elevate some, to downgrade
others, to make permanent decisions
on war and peace, to build hierarchies,
to establish authority, to rule politically

and culturally, to betray sunlight,
to supervise the acorn. O such doings
are the way of life, I sit alone
in the garden bending light