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George Northrop

Avoiding Despair

After we stopped believing
God would save us,
we thought knowledge
would save us, or Eros.

We thought a mix of gold

and treasury bonds
would save us, or friends,
California, or hard work,

or single malt scotch.
Finally, Buddhism saved us
from thinking anything
would save us.

Extended Memory

I remember everything
about this little gardenia bush,
how the buds of your eyes blossomed
when I surprised you with it,
the wilted look on your face
when you gave it back
a few months later,
worried you would kill the helpless plant,
trusting me to keep it alive.

That was over ten years ago.

I remember the time I asked Faye
to water it while I was in Rome—
she did what you might have,
inclined to be too nurturing,
and half was drowned.
Now the remaining half
grows to one side like a trained bonsai,
wintering in the greenhouse,
summering on the front steps,
flowering like that first time in your arms.

I considered repotting my gardenia,

tilted upright to look less like an amputee.
But I have come to prefer this injured way,
holding all that was perishable between us.

George H. Northrup is President of the Fresh Meadows Poets in Queens, NY and board member of the Society that selects the Nassau County Poetry Laureate. He is also a past President of the New York State Psychological Association.