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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Though it’s July, the grass is iced

from last night’s frost, and the heart-shaped leaves

of the pole beans hang limp and dead.

And so the chance to practice letting go.

It’s too bad, of course,

but the stakes are low.

It was only one row,

a handful of seeds,

a hankering for fresh green beans.

Not a livelihood. Not a child.

Not a hope. Not a dream.

Just a small row of leaves

that do what leaves do.

No one to point a finger at.

No one to pick a fight with.

Just this practice of meeting  

the world as it is. This chance to start again—

the work of the living.

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Storage

 

 

I want to hear the green song in the veins of the leaves,

the dark song of soil as it warms in the midsummer sun.

I want to learn the low ballad of beets as they swell,

the racy soprano of strawberries flirty and sweet,

the slow bass of the lonesome potatoes as they fill out their lumps.

How have I not harmonized with the thrust of sunflowers?

How have I missed the chive chorus? The verses of nasturtium?

The chanting of onions as they steep in their own minor key?

If there is a garden holler known by the garlic,

world, teach it to me. I want to hear the carrots

as they reach trustingly down, down, down.

I want to carry those midsummer songs in my bones

so when winter comes, and I forget how things grow,

though it’s quiet and cold, I’ll remember, I’ll remember.

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Every morning I walk into the garden,

even when there is little to see—only rows

of tiny sprouts and the earth just beginning to crack.

It is not so much that I speak to the seedlings,

though I do—to the slender green lashes

of carrots and the heart-shaped leaves of beans.

It is more that they speak to me in syllables

I feel through my fingers—speak of resilience

and tenderness, speak of the dark and beautiful

earth. There are so many days when I worry

that I am not doing enough—worry

that I could be more kind, more generous,

more loving, more vocal, more good.

But in the garden, pulling bindweed

and clover and salsify from the mostly empty rows,

all of my brokenness feels less broken.

It is somehow easier to forgive myself

for being who I am. And to mean it.

Easier to know myself as one of many.

Easier to believe that like the potato greens

I have so much more to offer that

can’t yet be seen, but it’s growing,

surely, deep in the darkness, it’s growing.

 

 

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Dignity

 

 

 

After the frost, the snapdragons remain standing.

They didn’t change colors the way the basil did.

 

Didn’t shrivel and flag like the beans.

They met the cold affront with beauty,

 

and a week later, they still stand, erect,

blossoms only slightly faded.

 

What an astonishing way

to meet an almost invincible force.

 

Even now, at the base of the lifeless stems,

tiny green leaves appear from the roots.

 

They insist, This isn’t over yet.

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While I heat curried asparagus soup,

my husband and son cover garden beds

with thick gray blankets.

I watch them from the kitchen window,

my son now taller than his dad.

How quickly he bolted, bolts still.

I think of the ways

we try to protect what we grow.

The threat of frost is real.

Like the bean sprout that didn’t make it last night,

despite the fact we covered it.

This morning it was waxy, shriveled, dark.

How quickly it died.

But because my husband made row covers,

everything else survived.

I would like to make a row cover

for my son, for the world—something

to protect against what is harshest, most cold.

Instead, I mix lemon juice, yogurt

and chives that we’ll swirl into the soup.

I can fortify him on the inside.

My husband tacks down the cloths

with hammer and nails—I think

of all that will be saved tonight.

We are charged to take care

of each other, the world. Impossible charge.

My son catches my eye and smiles.

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My daughter plants nasturtium seeds, 

two per hole, four inches apart. 

 

Meanwhile, two rows away, I drop carrot seeds 

four to the inch, into the soft dark soil.  

 

Oh, the secrets of dirt, this kingdom 

of earth with its cool and damp quiet— 

 

how quickly its finite borders pull me 

into the infinite. What joy to travel here 

 

with my girl, though she is hesitant traveler.  

One could say the main thing we did today  

 

was measuring—how deep, how many seeds, 

how far apart. Perhaps. When we finish, it will look 

 

the same as when we began. But 

I look at my daughter across the rows, 

 

humming with her hands in the dirt 

and I see already in her the fiery petals,  

 

the peltate leaves like green flags  

that know how to play with the wind.  

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_6144

 

 

Today I take the courage I don’t feel

and the resilience I doubt and

all my unspent longing to serve,

and I bring them, cupped in my hands,

to the garden. They nestle there in my palms

like three baby birds that have not yet

opened their eyes. I take them to hear

the pungent song of the garlic shoots

and the thriving chives who chant

how to survive the winter.

I bring them to hear the strawberry leaves

who sing how to flourish despite the frost.

and the old song of chicken manure

and composted grass that hum about

how old life begets new life.

And they open their tiny beaks,

as if they could eat the green song.

How vulnerable they are.

So I open to the song, too.

I do what must be done.

I take in the nourishing song,

and feed them with my own mouth.

 

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What if, tonight, we all went to bed

and thought of our best version of our self.

It wouldn’t be true, of course. Not

in this moment, and not tomorrow.

Not mid-week. Not next week.

Not even next year. But if we could picture it,

it would be a goal we could live toward.

 

It would be, perhaps, like the garden beds

I prepared today—hoeing in fertilizer,

last year’s grass clippings, leaves.

When I was done, the rows still looked like dirt,

but such fine dirt it was for planting.

 

I believe in our resilience.

What is best in us is eager to grow,

like the sunflower sprouts

volunteering again this year.

What if tonight, we imagined the roots

of our goodness. What if tonight,

we planted only those seeds.

 

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Today it is the chives that spur me,

seeing their slender green scapes and leaves

that have pushed up

through the dried clumps

of last year’s version of themselves.

 

When nothing else in the garden is green,

the chives grow, smooth, bendable, soft,

and yet they have managed to pierce

through the hard spring dirt.

Unwatered. Ignored.

 

In the aftermath of cold and dark,

they come. And something green in me responds,

pungent and powerful, eager. Ready

to flourish. Ready to meet the world,

though the cold is far from over.

 

What is it in us that longs to grow

through the previous, dried up versions of ourselves?

It rises, yes, like tiny spears, unstoppable,

bent on thriving, daring us to be

that resilient, that willing, that green.

 

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Allium Sativum

 

 

 

When everything had died,

but before the ground was frozen,

I planted the garlic in four long rows—

 

dozens of cloves deep enough

in the earth so the frost

couldn’t push them up and out.

 

I think of them now as winter

continues to gather the world

in its white embrace.

 

I think of how, beneath the snow,

they’re preparing to flourish,

to root, to leaf, to grow.

 

It’s not so different, I think,

from the ways you love me—

how, sometimes, when everything

 

seems barren, you’ll plant seeds.

And though we see nothing for a long,

long time, there, like cloves beneath the surface,

 

each seed multiplies into many.

So much of love happens invisibly.

So much of love takes a stretch.

 

When the cloves ripen, some we will consume.

They will mark us with their strength.

Some, like love, we will plant again.

 

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