I remember the beginning of my journey, my innocence, as pristine as a child’s vision, and the luxurious landscape, and the soothing scents of sumptuous flowers in all the gardens I visited.
I taste nostalgia and the longing of youth and inhale the intoxicating smell of the past. And instantly, I summon yesterday.
On the 7th day, I arrived in the Country of Dreams. I checked into Hotel Phantasmagoria, and dozed off in a celestial king-size bed. When I woke up, I noticed the painted face on the perfumed comforter-the glorious face of the grand interpreter of dreams, Professor Dr. Sigmund Freud. I rose and prepared for my journey.
A day of rest is as beautiful as a peacock’s feathers.
“Where is the Garden of Secrets?” I asked the clerk.
“Sir, no one knows.”
“But it’s listed in the travel brochure.”
“Yes, it is.”
I still dream.
“But first, you must go to the Secret Garden. There, you will discover the Garden of Miracles, the Garden of the Divine, and finally, the Garden of Secrets.”
“Where is the Secret Garden?”
“No one knows.”
I search for eternity.
“Do you have a map of this magnificent country?”
“May I have one?”
“Of course, sir, but I suggest you rest today.”
A day of rest is soul food, like Mother’s cooking, and the taste of the enchanting sunset over Mallory Square Dock in Key West, decades ago; and in summer, it is the smell of the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park, where I inhale the myriad exotic scents and dream of faraway places.
I took the clerk’s advice. Thus, on the 7th day, I rested. The following day, I searched for the gardens.
I remember my early visions of tomorrow. They sailed away from the days that blossomed in the Garden of Time.
On the 8th day, I searched for the gardens and found three exotic orchards, but not the Secret Garden. At night, the emptiness ate my bones.
I am still in the middle of my journey, having traveled more than half-a-century in search of 4 sacred gardens.
On the 9th day, I found three more gardens-a flower garden, a rock garden, and a Japanese garden, but none of the gardens I craved. Through the decades, I visited hundreds of gardens. I found beauty, but not my phantom gardens.
Gurus tell me my gardens exist only in my mind. Yet I continue to search for them in the physical world.
Yesterday, my heart told me my 4 gardens exist in all the gardens I had already visited. And my soul confessed they co-exist in my mind too.
Tomorrow, I will begin my journey again and re-examine every garden I passed through and imagined. In the Country of Dreams, the Garden of Secrets is everywhere.
BIO: Dr. Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories have appeared in numerous magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, ESPIONAGE, THE SAINT, PULP METAL MAGAZINE, INNER SINS, YELLOW MAMA, and AUDIENCE. His poems have been widely published in magazines and books including THE BROOKLYN LITERARY REVIEW, BRICKPLIGHT, SKIVE MAGAZINE, POETRY PACIFIC, POETICA, RED FEZ, SQUAWK BACK, SWEET ANNIE & SWEET PEA REVIEW, THE JEWISH PRESS, THE JERUSALEM POST, HOTMETAL PRESS, MAD SWIRL, HAGGARD & HALLOO, ASCENT ASPIRATIONS, and NAMASTE FIJI: THE INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY. A past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis, he was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature and is the author of 11 books. He recently completed an experimental mystery novel inspired by one of Freud’s case studies. He has been inspired for decades by his patients and their heroic stories of trauma and survival.