What Light: This Week's Poem returns with a bit of winning verse from Sharon Chmielarz selected by What Light judge, Leslie Adrienne Miller.
December 10, 2007

Photo of Sharon Chmielarz by C. Mannheim.

Garden Scene

        painting by Stanislav Zhukovski, 1873-1944;
        d. in a concentration camp near Warsaw.
        From the collection at The Museum of Russian Art, Mpls.

The garden’s divided in half by a picket fence.
On the closer side, a small table,
clothed and adorned by the useful
cup and tea pot, saucer, spoon,
painted in times when it was possible

to go into the house and find
a plate of bread to carry out.
To sit, to eat, to drink
under an awning of birch leaves,
near a flowerbed wash of swamp-red pinks.

Such a plain scene to fall in love with,
I want to gaze and gaze. It keeps
the heart beating in times of scarcity,
a garden in dreams from across a sea,
where one becomes full merely by remembering.


I was compelled to write Garden Scene after seeing a painting by Stanislav Zhukovski, 1873-1944, in the Museum of Russian Art. It reminded me how beautiful simple things are, a garden table; how we don’t know what things await us outside the garden. Mr. Zhukovski died in the Prushkov Concentration Camp near Warsaw.


Sharon Chmielarz has been a finalist in the National Poetry Series and in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her collections include The Rhubarb King, The Other Mozart, But I Won't Go Out in a Boat, Different Arrangements, and a chapbook, Stranger in Her House. Her poems have a translated into French and Polish, and appear in two MN 2007 anthologies.

MN Artists