How could he love them if he didn’t name them?
The gardener calls her darlings in Latin and common
English: astilbe, vinca, wild
iris (feral, really; each stray bed a grave
memorial for the fallen house), salvia.
He made a short list of fruits; tree of knowledge, tree of life.
Animals he left to his creation. We don’t call a dog
dog, but Gus, Cosmo, Brooklyn, Maggie.
And often variations: Magpie, Maggles, Maggot.
Also he left the woman
unnamed until the debacle of perfect life was over.
We are so near the animals, darling, sweetie, honey.
Lamb and sparrow. Leviathan and dove.
Carnegie Mellon has just reissued Joyce Peseroff’s The Hardness Scale in its Classic Contemporary series and will publish Mortal Education early next year. (1999)