A poem a week until the entire book is blogged.

Monday, June 18, 2018

These are Not the Tomatoes

These are not the tomatoes she wanted,
Heirlooms such as Cherokee Purple, or
Even Brandywines. But the clerk only
Sells what's brought in, finds labels, wands
Each three-inch pot through as she would

A bag of chips or box of three penny nails.
Really, the old woman muses, I should have
Ended my day at the seedsman, but it's not

Near here -- what, twenty miles? So I've
Opted for the discount store again, to buy
These things that hurt my soul: hybrids.

There's this about them, they do produce
Heavy fruits that please her folks and friends
Easily enough, and in larger numbers. But

To her there's something in them lacking.
Old varieties taste of the eyes of young
Men, of weeping, of laughter, of
A child's anger at being teased, of
The confusion of having one's braid pulled.
On the hybrids she can't say as much.
End to youth, beginning of sameness; a
Safety that came to her too soon.




Monday, June 11, 2018

The Cool Weather Plants

The cool-weather plants have bolted, and she
Has had to gather the saddest cases.
Even kale, not last year's but this year's, and 

Chard are defying the routine she has,
Over decades, established as garden law.
Often she walks through now, knife in hand,
Lopping flowering stalks, vainly trying

Whether some leaves can be kept soft
Even as the heat chases her dream of spring 
Away again. Like last year. Like the year before.
There's something to be said for radishes,
Her bowl tells her, which is that it is not
Empty. With arugula and rocket, leaves
Ripped from already woody stems, snipped,

Piled loosely, steamed lightly, stirred
Lazily with duck egg on hot iron
And tipped out onto a wrap, she'll
Not starve today. Not that she would;
Times were, she, younger, put things by.
Shelves filled, bins groaned. A fear of

Hunger to come, of poverty, keeps her
Away from the cellar nowadays. She
Values what's to be had from sun to sun.
Even in real winters, there had always

Been something to scrape for under snow.
Over her now emptied bowl she, sated,
Lingers, watching shadows move. It's 
That sun that worries her, drying
Even early crops. Could even her
Death come as rain, that would bless.




Monday, June 4, 2018

At Her Western Window

At her western window, she's stitching.
The needle pricks her sometimes. She moves

Her hand aside to not bleed on silk.
Even as she works, her waxed thread in
Rows appearing like commas, she sees a

Western meadowlark pounce in tall grass
Ever growing, unmowed, outside. When
She stops, peering over thick lenses
To note the meadowlark has a grub, to her
Ears come, faintly, short songs of its mate.
Reaching for her scissors, she snips a tail,
Nudges it out of sight behind a stitch.

When this row is done, she'll ask her mate
If it will do. If not, she'll turn her mother's
Needle and pull thread, loop by loop 
Down to the place her mind wandered.
O meadowlark, I must look away!
Wonder does not always aid one's work.




Monday, May 28, 2018

Five Plants In

Five plants in, her back gives out, an
Ill omen, given her age. This
Very thing, her father had predicted;
Even said: you will lose interest in

Planting, in harvesting, in putting up.
Lately she sees what he meant: politics
And global change have consumed her;
Now she sits much more, immobilized by
Things she can only warn of, not repair.
She feels some obligation to the young

In all countries, even of peoples she will
Never meet. Some tell her it's not

Her business if some foreign child drowns.
Even were that so, she would still feel it,
Rummage in her purse, send something.

Back in her garden, unfinished flats
And pots of spring greens wonder where she is.
Could she have died at last, that old thing,
Killed by her curiosity, and left their roots

Groping for water, circling round
In dark commercial soil? The 
Very weeds miss her companionable warfare.
Even the birds and squirrels, not chased
She has let down; they lose their edge.

Out in the mailbox, seed catalogs pile up.
Under the house, leaks spring.
This is how it is. Life moves on.




Monday, May 21, 2018

How She Knows She Is Not Useless Yet

How she knows she is not useless yet:
Old cornstalks must be shattered right
Where they stood green, to feed worms

She knows are waiting in darkness.
Her hens wait too, for water, for feed,
Especially for deadnettles, nipplewort,

Kale and comfrey. Some hummingbirds
Now arriving check the lilac for their
Own nectar bottle that hung there
While last spring, summer and fall
Slipped past. There are wasp queens

She finds sleeping in her woodpile;
Her heart skips a beat as she sees
Each one, for she fears them, yet

Interests herself in their rest and
Safety, for the good they do her garden.

Now she mucks out her barn, for
Of her things she values rich mulch, almost
To distraction, most. But slowly;

Under beams and eaves hang cobwebs,
Sacs of eggs suspended in each, waiting
End of winter, not to be disturbed.
Lest she forget to serve all equitably,
Every bucket of soiled barn water
She carries to her trees to tip out: 
Something to stave off drought.

Yes, she's earned the right, she thinks,
Even in this so solitary place,
To call herself an asset to her friends.




Monday, May 14, 2018

Spring Springs

Spring springs upon her unawares;
Perhaps she thought snow would drift
Right up to her window, as it should
In February, as in her memory
No such month escaped some white.
Going forth in a sleeveless shift

She pockets up seeds for flats,
Pulls out dank bins of soil,
Reaches for small pots, sets hope
In light. Such April ploys are
Not to be counted on, she knows --
Guessing random frosts
Still may spring upon her unawares. 




Monday, May 7, 2018

What Was Hers But Is Not Hers Just Now

What was hers, but is not hers just now,
Having suffered a rising tide of voles
And other rodents (she does not doubt), is
The potting shed/solarium, a domain in

Which she'd reigned, she thought, for decades.
All of it, she'd built herself. Gathering
Slats of rough hewn barn wood, windows,

Heaps of antique bricks, a long green bench,
Ever more pots and flats, bins and trowels,
Royally she'd treated herself to her heaven,
Seedlings doing as she'd have them do.

But then: disaster. Peas and beans tucked
Under skeins of soil vanished by ones and
Threes -- whole flats of corn plowed up.

Is there nothing to be done, she wonders,
Short of slaughter by nefarious means?

Not the first option. She casts about among
Old tosswares in corners and on shelves.
This rolled-up screening might do. Shears in

Hand, she measures as one measures cloth,
Ever minding the selvage, to create caps
Rodents might decline to chew.
Slipping these into place, adding to each

Just one stone per corner, using
Up the Buddha cairns she'd made
Stacked here and there round the room.
The precept honored, she waters all,

Not neglecting to sprinkle stones.  
Outcomes must be as they must be.
We find true that find we do not reign. 




These are Not the Tomatoes

These are not the tomatoes she wanted, Heirlooms such as Cherokee Purple, or Even Brandywines. But the clerk only Sells what's b...