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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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Big Eden

 

 

 

As surely as I know how to spell harvest,

I understood today that no matter our job titles,

our work is gardener: always the same:

Plant the seeds. Tend what grows. Nourish.

Pinch back. Repeat. What a gift to see, at last,

the size of the garden. What a gift

to be in service to the world—to pull up

our sleeves, to smell the earth, to take

what we’ve been given and make it better,

to feed the others, to do it again.

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The Truth

 

 

Inside the bright words

there are other words

that want to be said—

small words

in dark shells.

.

It reminds me

of the sunflowers

that grew in the fall—

how we loved them

for their golden petals,

 

but they were true

to the small dark seeds

that grew them,

to the small dark seeds

they grew.

 

 

 

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sitting with flowers in the garden

until I am

flower in the garden

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Ode to the Patty Pan

 

 

 

I can imagine not everyone would look

at this plate of grilled pattypan squash

and start to salivate. I was one of them once,

 

those who think they dislike zucchini, crook necks,

patty pans. I, too, shunned the spongy flesh,

the seeded core. I was a scorner of squash.

 

I don’t exactly remember when it changed,

when I stopped wishing it off my plate,

began to grow it myself. Began to crave it—

 

and not just grated into sweet bread.

Not just sliced and forgotten in a rich tomato sauce.

No, I came to delight in the very squash-ness of it—

 

the way it embodies the abundance of summer.

The way it takes on other flavors but never

abandons its own. And here, tonight,

 

stacked on my plate like small green suns,

blistered and sweating from the grill,

the pattypan squash are luscious, delightful,

 

so utterly themselves. How hard it used to be

to appreciate them. I remember. How easily

it comes now, this thrill in what summer provides.

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Aphids are born pregnant.

I don’t want to believe it,

but it makes sense, considering

what’s happening in my kale.

And Google confirms it.

They are born pregnant.

And their embryos are also

pregnant. Three generations

of garden cripplers in each tiny

soft-bodied bug.

No matter how much I hate

and curse them, I have to admire

such insistence, such dedication

to survival.

 

It is like gratitude,

I think. Sometimes, it seems

as if there’s not much to be grateful for,

but if I can think of one blessing,

then often, buried in its belly

is another blessing,

and that gives birth to another.

Soon there’s a teeming colony

of gratitudes. And although

the news might try to squish them

or wash them away,

they persist.

 

Yes, all those tiny feasting gratitudes,

how easily they find a way

to thrive. How impressive

their tenacity, their drive.

 

 

 

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The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.

—Iyanla Vanzant

 

 

It’s violent, pulling the spinach

up by the roots. Rationalize

it has bolted. Rationalize

some plants will never thrive.

Rationalize that all things

have a cycle.

Despite the rational mind,

there is the actual ripping out

of the roots, the plucking

of the leaves, the tossing

of the stems.

 

But it’s just a vegetable,

you tell yourself.

It’s not a metaphor.

 

It gets harder to believe that.

At some point, Perhaps you see

there is nothing in the world,

not one thing, in which

you can’t find a shard of yourself.

Everything, everything is charged with meaning.

 

But clearing out the spinach

is a job that must be done.

So you learn to invest kindness

into your touch.

You sing as you do it,

and you say simple words:

Thank you, thank you.

 

You will make a lovely

bright green soup tonight.

In some rows, you transplant flowers

in the space left behind.

In some rows, you do nothing

and notice how beautiful it can be, absence.

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Amidst the sirens

and the horns,

tucked in between

the skyscrapers,

we found a garden

with a fountain

at its center

rung with trees

and lush green leaves

and purple hastas—

and there, inside

that sudden peace,

my dad and I

sat side by side

and didn’t solve

a goddammed thing

but listened to

the sound of water

falling, falling,

and watched it

rising up,

rising up again.

 

 

 

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Pulling the long red radish bulbs

from the garden, I marvel

at their pinkness, rub off the dirt,

bite into the crisp white flesh.

There are few tastes that bite

just right this way—make the mouth

happy to be a mouth and it teaches me,

without trying, that sometimes

when we wait too long,

a thing turns bitter. But oh, get

the timing right, my god, it’s sweet.

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