by Lorelei Bacht.
(photography pictured is by Bobby Miller)
“Coveting My Neighbor’s Flowers” is a short and surreal promenade in which the reader is invited to walk the fine line between beauty and fault. Mostly un-delineated and inventive in its punctuation, it is as if the lines had been subtly shifted around between the first draft and the version presented here, thus creating an openness, an ambiguity in which the reader can reside for a while—an opportunity for contemplation.
As a failed gardener herself, and coveter of other people’s flowers (which may or may not be flowers), this reader can only sympathize with the all-too-human feelings of envy, despair, and attempts at communion expressed in the poem. “How I craved them immediately”. Do we ever outgrow the so-called oral phase? Is Eucharistic communion not a variation on wanting to devour our mothers’ gardens? There are psychoanalytical resonances here, shades of do-not-put-this-in-your-mouth, evocations, perhaps, of other faults.
What is beauty? How do we partake in it? Is the wish to partake in it not doomed from the very beginning? The petal, the butterfly, the wafer, the body of Christ. All desired, yet unattainable: “beauty to swallow / that I feel like I stole.” The complexity of the human condition contained in this short, deceptively simple, deceptively mundane tale of a gardening “fail”.
This reader would argue that it was worth spending seven dollars on those seeds (as per the poet’s own detailed account) to produce this little marvel of condensed frustration and ultimately, beauty.