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American Life in Poetry

Sun., June 8, 2014, midnight

I like the looks of trellises and arbors and those miniature barns that keep your bushel baskets of tools dry. Here’s a poem by Frank Osen, who lives in Pasadena, California, about a garden shelter that’s returning to the earth.

The Lath House

Wood strips, cross-purposed into lattice, made

this nursery of interstices—a place

that softened, then admitted, sun with shade,

baffled the wind and rain, broke open space.

It’s now more skeletal, a ghostly room

the garden seemed to grow, in disrepair,

long empty and well past its final bloom.

Less lumbered, though, it cultivates the air

by shedding cedar slats for open sky.

As if, designed to never seem quite finished,

it had a choice to seal and stultify

or take its weather straight and undiminished,

grow larger but be less precisely here,

break with its elements, and disappear.

Poem copyright 2013 by Frank Osen, from “Virtue, Big as Sin” (Able Muse Press, 2013), and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


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