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Midnight in the Garden of Envy
Donal Mahoney

It's hot in our bedroom this midnight in June.
The air conditioner died but my wife sleeps on. 
She spent the day weeding the garden.
I finally decide to open a window
and pray for a breeze.
No breeze but I hear roses and lilies
arguing about which is the prettier, 
which of them deserves more space 
in the garden to unfurl their beauty,
petal by petal, like Gypsy Rose Lee.
The peonies mock the roses and lilies,
claiming peonies are the prettiest of all.
The petunias along the borders yell
not to ignore them because they're not tall.
Suddenly there's a ruckus among the hibiscus.
They, too, claim they're the most beautiful.
They want more space, as do the hydrangeas.
The roses decide to offer a compromise.
Tomorrow they promise to count 
which flower in the garden attracts
the most butterflies and honeybees.
The flower that attracts the most 
will be named the most beautiful 
and be given more space in the garden  
and won't lose a bloom to bouquets. 
The other flowers discuss in a whisper
the compromise offered by the roses.
They take a vote and agree to comply.
Finally, silence returns to the garden.
I tell my wife in the morning to hide out 
in the yard with a clipboard to confirm
which flower attracts the most 
butterflies and honeybees.
We can't trust the roses, I tell her.
They'll cheat on the final results.
I ask her to keep an eye on the sunflowers
since they didn't join the furor at midnight 
over which flower's the most beautiful.
I tell her more butterflies and bees 
will visit the sunflowers tomorrow
than any of the others because 
sunflowers at noon leap in the air 
and kiss every cloud in the sky.

© by Donal Mahoney.
Used with the author's permission.



Donal Mahoney (1938 - 2017), the son of Irish immigrants, grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He later lived in St. Louis, Missouri. Donal spent the early ‘70s actively submitting poems to print journals and enjoyed some success. He then took a 35-year hiatus from poetry to work as an editor of prose at such lofty establishments as the Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press, and Washington University in St. Louis. Upon retirement, Donal took to his recliner, and was perfectly happy reading and listening to Gregorian chant all day. After three years, however, his wife bought Donal a computer and showed him where the boxes of still-unpublished poems had been stored in the basement for many years. Thus Donal began actively submitting again in June 2008. See more of his work at




Post New Comment:
When I saw that you had posted a poem by Donal Mahoney I couldn't wait to read it. I've read other poems by Donal and once again he made me smile out loud. His poetry just makes me happy and I can't wait to share it with others.
Posted 06/07/2015 03:22 PM
Loved your poem, Donal. And the sunflowers win!
Posted 06/07/2015 03:09 PM
Loved it and great last line (though I am a peony girl :)
Posted 06/07/2015 02:02 PM
Sounds like a beautiful,garden. Quite an imagination to get discord among plants. But why not? Even birds squabble.
Posted 06/07/2015 04:57 AM

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