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For I Will Consider My Houseplant Magda

– after Christopher Smart


For I will consider my houseplant Magda
for she is not the servant of the living God
for she has no ears to hear him.

For if she sways her stalk of shining hairs
she does it to tempt, and not to praise.

For if she has grown taller
it is because she stood by the window
and not because someone told her to.

For if she has dirty feet
it is because I planned it that way.

For if she has no love for me
it is because I plucked a leaf
to shred in my worries.

For if she turns yellow
she does not deserve my attention.

For if I do not like yellow it is because
I never had a dress of that color.

For if I wore dresses
I would choose them in pinks
and apples, the colors with which
the Lord did not garnish Magda.

For if Magda glowed with roses
she would never be free of her lovers.

For even if plant-lovers left her alone
human lovers would pilfer her.

For no human can resist
a bud lit up by sunlight.

For it is in sunlight that I first
learned what I look like.

For if I did not know my face
I would see myself everywhere.

For an infant cannot tell that she is separate
from anyone who smells of milk.

For if the smell of milk does not lead to the taste
the mind will learn about identity.

For to know herself is a burden
that Magda will not have to bear.

For she does not listen to my interpretations
of her leaves and personality.

For she has tried to tell me a thing or two
but I do not want my thoughts contaminated by a pagan.

For Magda often exalts the sun with her body
and I rush to close the shutter with my dirty hand.


Posted 07/09/09
Books by Hannah Gamble
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Thanks to the editors at Mid-American Review, who first published this poem.
07/09/09 12:15pm