Poems of the Week

The Tourists in the Garden

by Julia Griffin

after Louis MacNeice

“Tokyo garden loses fortune because ticket seller was scared to charge foreigners:
Man let about 160,000 tourists into Shinjuku Gyoen garden rather than risk
being yelled at for not understanding them.”—The Guardian

The tourists in the garden
Harden and grow cold.
I’m jumpy as a cricket:
The tickets are unsold;
I don’t feel bold;
I squeak, “I beg your pardon…”

They’re angry, loud freeloaders
With sodas. It’s the end;
Municipal grim reapers,
That’s keepers, will descend;
And soon, my friend,
There’ll be some evil odors.

It should be gratifying
Supplying what one sells;
But stress is always mounting,
Counting each coin or else
Those dreadful yells!
I’m trying, Gyo-en, trying

And not expecting pardon,
Barred and de-pensioned too;
But is it such a wonder
Blunders occur—have you
Not once let through
A tourist in the garden?