The Corner



I was looking for you in the garden.

Above pink poppies and white cleome

I saw scarlet blossoms, a sweet cluster

I could not name without you near. Then

A strange voice came from the juniper

Against the wall, asking my name,

The high, cracked voice of an old woman

Hiding herself from mankind and the sun.

So. She has turned herself into a tree.

I introduced myself to the guardian spirit.

She said, “Aha! You must be the poet!”

When I asked her how she knew that,

She said she was so old she knew everything.

“I know when to come in out of the sun,

When to see or be seen, speak or listen;

I know when I’m too weary for gardening.”

I wanted to ask if she had seen a young

Woman nearby, but held my tongue,

Asking instead if she could name the flower

Whose scarlet petals in bracts tinted red

Shone on high stalks. “Bee-balm,” she said.

“Bees love it, all very well if you’re a bee,

But not fit for a serious man or an old lady.

Now, here’s a plant made for your poetry.

Blue sage: Breeds wisdom and maybe

Immortality. Take some of these

And leave the scarlet for the honey bees.”

— This poem appears in the October 6, 2014, print issue of National Review.

Most Popular


In Defense of the Electoral College

Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is ... Read More

Stick a Fork in O’Rourke

If, as I wrote last week here, Joe Biden may save the Democratic party from a horrible debacle at the polls next year, Beto O’Rourke may be doing the whole process a good turn now. Biden, despite his efforts to masquerade as the vanguard of what is now called progressivism, is politically sane and, if ... Read More
National Security & Defense

In Defense of the Iraq War

Today is the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and Twitter is alive with condemnations of the conflict -- countered by precious few defenses. Yet I believed the Iraq War was just and proper in 2003, and I still believe that today. When Donald Trump condemned the war during the 2015 primary campaign and ... Read More

Beto-mania and Our Cult of Personality Politics

Robert “Beto” O’Rourke’s biggest fans and supporters insist he is a forward-thinking, future-oriented visionary, but no contender for the Democratic nomination feels more familiar than the former three-term congressman from El Paso. That’s because he has the highest combined score in both déjà vu ... Read More