Maybe play is a kind of respite from fear, from living in a world with intractable problems and rigidities. Dreams are one kind of play in which our psyches loosen the bounds of rational waking life. David Stankiewicz brings to us another kind of play in his Night Garden, as he lingers before David Driskell’s painting, and becomes aware of a new sense of self and world.

Making art and allowing art to make us is perhaps one of the most serious and necessary kinds of play. Play may be the “work” of the imagination in which we let go of our sense of responsibility and control and embrace a kind of fluidity in which the moon can be a garden’s tallest blossom. David Stankiewicz gives us this experience, a serious play that doesn’t deny our estrangement from the world, but also allows us to see and feel beyond that into this green and lush garden that grows in the dark.

“David Driskell: Night Garden” is the title poem in David Stankiewicz’s new book, Night Garden, due out from Deerbrook Editions in 2024. His previous book is My First Beatrice (Moon Pie Press, 2013). A graduate of the University of Southern Maine Stonecoast MFA program, David is a professor of English at Southern Maine Community College. He lives in Cape Elizabeth with his wife and daughters.

Betsy Sholl, MAJ poetry editor.


David Driskell: Night Garden

(mixed media on paper, 2017)


The colors are never sleeping.

It is not as you fear.


If you look you will see them

tangled in dreams.


The blue bars of night

hold nothing back.


The warmth and the fragrance,

interwoven humus and sky.


Still your true home

or had you forgotten


those nights together in paradise

before these dry days of exile?


No matter. Greener even

and lusher than desire


the garden grows in darkness.

It grows! The moon


the tallest blossom.

Rest easy tonight.


So little

depends on you.



Note: Driskell’s Night Garden is reproduced on the website of Greenhut Galleries; click here.


Image at top: Nora Tryon, Night Garden, acrylic on paper, 8 x 10 in., 2023.