Topiary Gardens by Barbara Westwood Diehl

In the postcard city of Topiary Gardens, the hedges wish to be more than they are. You may have similar longings. Dreams. Being evergreen is not enough for them. Myrtles, laurels, hollies—all wish to be more than mere shrubbery. More than bearers of inedible berries. Flowering in impenetrable forests. A yew yearns to be more than long lived and coniferous.

Here, boxwoods can be both the hunters and hounds giving chase. Or the fox making its escape. Elephant or bear. Boxwoods are not merely landscape. They are the dragons of their lawns.

Hedges are pruned into their dreams—but you may wonder whose dreams. Once these dreams are achieved, the shrubs become unruly with growth. With regret? A change of heart? They can sprout all they want. Once shaped, a rabbit may never be a fox. A fox may never be a hound.

I believe these are the dreams of the men with shears and snips. Slipping in and out of the shadows with their sabers unsheathed. The men wearing thick gloves and carrying topiary cages for their dreams. They dream of dragons. They dream of capture. I think they fear what the bushes could become, if left to themselves. What fruit they would bear.

Barbara Westwood Diehl is founding and senior editor of  Baltimore Review. Her fiction and poetry have been published in a variety of publications.