Gabriella Attems


High Tower


I wouldn’t like to be a flower in this heat.

The business of tulips, done with in a week.

My boy runs after a brimstone
between the tower and the main gate
and there’s a man shouts from the window.


Listen in on what the silent stones have seen. Someone says:
If you find their mouths you’ll see the interior.

I find an old prayer in a book. Emitte spirtuum tuum. I speak to the trees. As if creation was done by will power and fire.

At dusk, beasts slink into the garden.

On the terraces, waist-high grasses, leaning fruit trees. Apple-munching deer.


In 1856, Marie has not emerged from her French novel.
She does not say,
I have ordered peacock-green ribbon from the Jew on Seilerstraße,
she does not say,
my life has been good as a rose. Slips are left between the pages of her book. An empty envelope addressed to her. No letter.

Hear the voices coming in from the forest, from the serpentine
coming up the hill, from Marienrast on the crest:
I have lost a ring. A reward, a reward to its finder.


The straight line of roses my mother draws has forgotteen
about eglantine, the smell of wild strawberries.

Her screaming from the high tower has stoppered in my ears.

Cherry blossoms turn to ice against the sky’s cold pane.


There is no silence in a house
once a child has left
and you pass from room to room, bruised, half-delinquent.

Seed pods rattle, no small fingers gather their luminous black,
frogs hide in the grass their bulbous eyes not mirroring him back


The garden’s design is fearless.

How free we are of form, how tidy
our psyches want our rooms to be,
how comfortable we are with our wild.

Every new season a fresh draft – which bulbs
have survived the mice, what old trunk will keel over, which patch
will stand out, exuberant like small girls about to sing,
holding out strawberries, rhubarb pastries, white asparagus,
every winter a new page in a poem
the garden writes. I, the gardener am only one rake
in this long chain of arms, one small hand
the arches, the silent stones have seen,
and the garden is always unfinished.
To everyone else it is real. To the gardener,
every year, every time, it is only half-real and half-imagined.



Gabriella Attems is a Belgian-Austrian writer based in Vienna. Her work has appeared in PIR, PN Review, Stand Magazine, PAIN, the Mays Anthology and elsewhere. She is a Comp Lit and Creative Writing graduate.

 << Go back to Helena Fornells on Tessa Berring’s Bitten Hair

Return to Issue 7