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Dear friends, 

It has been seven weeks since I sent you a poem–seven weeks since my son chose to take his life. Thank you for all the ways you’ve supported me in this time–prayers, emails, letters, gifts. Though I have been unable to respond to all your kindness with personal notes, please accept my enormous gratitude. Thank you. Thank you for all the love and kindness I have felt surrounding and infusing me–I have never felt alone. I am so grateful for you. 

I think I am ready to continue the daily sharing. We’ll see how it goes. 

with love, 
Rosemerry




Digging Potatoes, 2021



I am not the woman I was
a year ago when my son and I
harvested potatoes. Today
I must look like her—
bare hands in the dirt,
sunhat on. But she did not know
the deep loss of losing a son.
Perhaps she’d imagined it.
That is why she did everything
she could to keep such a loss
from happening. But the woman
I am today knows all too well
what I cannot control.
I plunge my fingers
into the cold earth
and talk to my son
as if he can hear me.
I miss you, I say. And I reminisce
about all the other years
we did this together. I ooh
at the size of the potatoes,
hold them up as if he can see.
What does love care of absence?
Love grows, despite death—
it roots in each cell and insists
on tendrilling, touching everything.
In the middle of the night,
a voice commanded me to remember:
Life needs us to live it.
All day I puzzle over the message.
All day I lean into the words.
I say them out loud as I pull out
potatoes, ask my son what he thinks
it might mean. No reply. He has become
one with life now in a way
I cannot yet understand.
And so I breathe into it, this chapter
of loss, this life needing me to live it.
All around me, inside me,
I notice how so much is changing, notice
in each moment, a new invitation.

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They don’t like it. For a day,
maybe two, they’ll hang limp
in the beds. I try to talk them
through it, try to tell them
it will be okay. But no one
wants to hear it will be okay
when it feels as if
the world is ending,
especially not nasturtiums—
nasturtiums can’t hear,
which makes me wonder
how much of what I say
to comfort others is really
intended to comfort myself.
In two days, the nasturtiums
will be upright and bright.
And I’ll praise them, tell them
I knew they could do it,
tell them how resilient they are.

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            for Marne


And though we have not spoken
in over thirty years, today I invite
the memory of my friend to walk
with me in the garden.
That girl would laugh
to learn I’ve become a woman
who weeds, who waters, who grows.
We were uncultivated together,
unrooted, unmanicured,
and blossoming anyway,
windblown and wandering and wild.
I bring that sweet madness now
into the tidy rows and marvel
at how things change.
For a moment, I am running with her
over a hill and spinning
and crashing and laughing.
For a moment, I am again that girl
who is more dream than flesh,
more wish than should, more
me than I ever could be.
How beautiful the song of that memory,
how it rhymes even now with whatever
is green in me.
Even now, I am running,
spinning, crashing, though anyone looking
at the garden might think
I am peacefully deadheading flowers,
talking to the spinach,
painstakingly pulling the weeds.

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Again. Again.




Almost every spring, I forget them,
the six packs of cosmos starts on the porch.
All it takes is one cold night,
an innocence of frost.

By dawn, the buds slightly droop.
By noon, the leaves hang darkened and limp.
By the next day, they’re black.
And dead.

It’s a familiar story. How one night
changes everything. How one day
I’m blooming, thriving, alive,
the next all I’d grown is gone.

I used to believe all was lost.
I used to throw the whole plant away.
But I learned what is dead serves as a blanket
to protect whatever still lives.

Wait, and in days, a tiny green filigree
emerges from the base.
In a month or two, it’s a bask of blooms,
no trace of how bleak it was.

Such tender study, the cosmos.
Blame is no part of their process.
They let what’s been lost be of service.
They know they are here to grow.

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Of course I knew the mint
would take over the pansy garden—
I planted it anyway.
Now the garden is overrun
with thick ropes of roots
and there’s mint in everything—
the garden, the lawn,
my hands. Even if I tried
to pull it all out, it would return
with its cool, bright scent of resilience.


It is, perhaps, similar to the way
a mother thinks she knows  
just how deep the roots of love
will go. But I, I had no idea
how, despite drought, despite
poor soil, love’s runners
would spread through every
inch of my life, untameable,
and just when I might think it gone,
new sprouts erupt
fragrant and green,
sweet and fresh,
everywhere, everywhere.

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Today, I notice something green
spearing through the dirt
in the garden, and only
because there are eight such spears
rising in perfect rows do I vaguely remember
last year I planted bulbs there,
but I don’t remember what they are.
How much of the beauty we plant
do we forget?

There is so much in me that grows
because of words you have sown.
I doubt you remember them,
I don’t remember them, either,
only that your words were kind
and now they have taken root.
Who knows what the flowers
will look like? I water them, though,
trust I’ll be delighted when they bloom
into a garden of beautiful I don’t know.

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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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