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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Why I Garden

Digging in the garden,

hands deep in the dirt,

I have no beliefs.

I have soil for a pulse

and soil for lungs, soil

for hands and heart.

I don’t have thoughts

about who should do what

or how, instead

I have dirt thoughts—

loamy, rich, crumbling thoughts

that sometimes, if I’m lucky,

have a potato in them.

I speak the language

of mineral and listen

for organic matter,

but the only word

they seem to say

is listen, listen.

And then, they say

nothing at all.

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Inside my heart is a gardener.

She knows eventually

all seeds planted in the heart

will die. That doesn’t stop her

from planting. And on a night

when she knows it will frost—

winter, after all, comes soon—

that doesn’t stop her

from rummaging around for blankets

to cover everything in bloom.

You could just let it go,

says some other inner voice.

Nothing lasts forever.

She pauses to listen.

Perhaps all she’ll get is one more week—

one more week of lush and unruly beauty,

one more week of riotous love.

It’s late and she’s tired.

She grabs another blanket.

Damn right, she’ll fight for it.  

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Finding Faith

While pulling the beets,

it’s impossible to lose faith

in the world. Those tiny seeds

that once fit in the palm are now

large red globes,

dense with dark sweetness

and heavy in the hand.

They are like promises kept,

like small proofs in patience,

confirmations that sometimes

the good that’s growing can’t be seen.

They are like hard truths.

Not everyone will want them.

But some will. Some will.

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Forecast

In two nights, the killing frost will come.

Because I know this, I wander the garden

and talk to the broccoli, the nasturtiums,

the cilantro. I thank the beets for their willingness

to grow. I tell the onions what is coming.

Tomorrow I will pick enormous bouquets

and fill the house with orange flowers.

Tomorrow I will sit in the garden

and try to store the beauty in my body

though I know it doesn’t work that way.

Please, just one more day, just one more month,

just one more life to try to get it right,

just one more chance to be as attentive

as I am when I know it is almost over,

the basil dark green, the marigolds crinkling with gold.

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All summer it’s been twisting and winding,

twining around sunflowers,

stretching across pathways,

climbing the pea vines and the tall wire fence.

If there is a fairy godmother of flowers,

she must have said to the bindweed,

“I bless you with tenacity.” And forever since,

it has lived up to her generosity.

Why do I curse it for its persistence,

when I, myself, have made a life out of stubbornness?

Oh foolish woman who longs for beauty,

but pulls the bindweed before it is beautiful,

before its pale pink flowers open to morning

delicate as certainty.

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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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