When I Am Asked

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When I am asked 
how I began writing poems, 
I talk about the indifference of nature. 

It was soon after my mother died, 
a brilliant June day, 
everything blooming. 

I sat on a gray stone bench 
in a lovingly planted garden, 
but the day lilies were as deaf 
as the ears of drunken sleepers 
and the roses curved inward. 
Nothing was black or broken 
and not a leaf fell 
and the sun blared endless commercials 
for summer holidays. 

I sat on a gray stone bench 
ringed with the ingenue faces 
of pink and white impatiens 
and placed my grief 
in the mouth of language, 
the only thing that would grieve with me.

© Paul Eluard