The Secret Garden

By Rita Dove b. 1952 Rita Dove
I was ill, lying on my bed of old papers,
when you came with white rabbits in your arms;   
and the doves scattered upwards, flying to mothers,   
and the snails sighed under their baggage of stone . . .

Now your tongue grows like celery between us:   
Because of our love-cries, cabbage darkens in its nest;   
the cauliflower thinks of her pale, plump children   
and turns greenish-white in a light like the ocean’s.

I was sick, fainting in the smell of teabags,   
when you came with tomatoes, a good poetry.   
I am being wooed. I am being conquered
by a cliff of limestone that leaves chalk on my breasts.

Rita Dove, “The Secret Garden” from Yellow House on the Corner (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1989). Copyright ©1989 by Rita Dove. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Yellow House on the Corner (1989)

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Poet Rita Dove b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Health & Illness, Pets, Love, Trees & Flowers, Gardening, Living, Relationships, Activities, Nature, Romantic Love, Desire

Occasions Get Well & Recovery

 Rita  Dove

Biography

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952, the daughter of one of the first black chemists in the tire industry. Dove was encouraged to read widely by her parents, and excelled in school. She was named a Presidential Scholar, one of the top one hundred high-school graduates in the country and attended Miami University in Ohio as a National Merit Scholar. After graduating, Dove received a Fulbright to study at the University of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Health & Illness, Pets, Love, Trees & Flowers, Gardening, Living, Relationships, Activities, Nature, Romantic Love, Desire

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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