Shelly Blankman

Japanese Tea Garden

She sits alone in this
pocket of time, the
Japanese tea garden,

once an unblemished
jewel nestled in stone,
a haven from human touch,

now marred by names of
lovers long parted, bonds
since broken, carved in cacti

and rock walls that will never
heal as hearts do. She has
been here before, when her

hair was silky brown, not
frayed and graying. The
knells of time have taken

their toll, too, on her hands,
veined and thin, clasped
as if in prayer for a phantom

caller, while her heart ticks
away the sunlight and grows
cold as stone.

Koi sparkle in the sun-kissed
pond beside her, rippling in
random orbits just below

the surface, stirring the silence
in gentle splashes, passing
each other, and she wonders

if they ever feel alone.

Author’s Statement on Beauty

The definition of beauty, for me, has evolved with age. At one time, I’d regard beauty visually. At one time beauty meant long, blonde hair (I have brown), a willowy figure (I was born with big hips), and gorgeous blue eyes (mine are hazel).

Now that I’ve learned that adages become adages for a reason — and that beautiful people can become quite ugly once they open their mouths, I define the concept quite differently.

Beauty is a feeling…a sensation. It is a sense of peace. It is feeling my hair getting messed up in the wind at the beach. It is the sputtering of raindrops on a sunny day. It is the crackling of a fire. It is being at the zoo wrapped in the magnificence of animals whose spirits are entwined with mine. It is the childish delight of snowflakes on my tongue. It is holding a sick cat, letting my heartbeat comfort him, or letting his warmth comfort me when I am ill. It is being with my kids, saying nothing, and knowing that the love is there.

Does it help to be physically beautiful? Maybe. But to me, physical beauty is nothing if you can’t appreciate the sensation of beauty that surrounds you.

Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland. Her poetry has been published by Silver Birch Press, Verse-Virtual, Ekphrastic Review, Whispers and Visual Verse, among others.