Garden of Eden
by Tracy K. Smith
What a profound longing
I feel, just this very instant,
For the Garden of Eden
On Montague Street
Where I seldom shopped,
Usually only after therapy
Elbow sore at the crook
From a handbasket filled
To capacity. The glossy pastries!
Pomegranate, persimmon, quince!
Once, a bag of black beluga
Lentils spilt a trail behind me
While I labored to find
A tea they refused to carry.
It was Brooklyn. My thirties.
Everyone I knew was living
The same desolate luxury,
Each ashamed of the same things:
Innocence and privacy. I’d lug
Home the paper bags, doing
Bank-balance math and counting days.
I’d squint into it, or close my eyes
And let it slam me in the face—
The known sun setting
On the dawning century.
PHOTO: Garden of Eden, 180 Montague Street, Brooklyn, New York. Photo by Susan M.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tracy K. Smith is an American poet and educator who served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017 to 2019. She has published four collections of poetry, winning the Pulitzer Prize for her 2011 volume Life on Mars. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was published in 2015.