A poem a week until the entire book is blogged.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Begin

This time of year that room is not much visited.
Its herringbone-patterned floor of worn bricks
tilts here and there where rodents have made inroads.

Homemade flats lie heaped in corners; stacks of cells
lean sleepily together; insulation dangles;
tools hang, festooned with webs and dust. Sometimes

when the door has been set ajar, a towhee wanders in,
becomes confused at light from so many windows,
beats itself silly, then rests, is eventually found

and shown the way out. There's not much
an old lady can do but wait, watching for
earlier suns to rise, for petrichor,*

for that sudden dislocation brought on
by stepping into sunshine by a southern wall.
Then, after one jonquil blooms by way of

affirmation, she'll step in, rearrange things,
dust her work bench and stool, bring seeds,
open the soil bin, grab a pot, begin.



__________________________________
*The odor of dry earth moistened by rain.




Monday, April 9, 2018

Weather Is a Thing, Now

Weather is a thing, now, she tells herself,
Every day surprising -- week, month
And season. When, whether and what
To plant, or how to schedule visits with
Her friends or family, across a pass or
Even in lowlands. Storm clouds will
Roll in, blizzards, fire, a tornado. She

Is sure there's easy weather somewhere
Such times as freezing fog, wind, or

A heatwave shuts her in. She'll admit

There are good days for her yet
Here beneath her patient apple trees.
If weather is a thing, so is simplicity.
Never waste a calm day, she says:
Go see trilliums, bespeak beargrass,

Nod to daisies, curtsy to wise willows.
On such days, forget falling trees and hills,
Water rising. Love life while you can.




Monday, April 2, 2018

All that is Left is the Granny Smiths

All that is left is the Granny Smiths; she 
Loves that they cling to their shivered tree,
Leaves long gone. Even the hens have left off

Trusting the sky to toss them sugar, and
Have retired to their tractor, pecking
At storebought feed in its styrene bin.
The winds whistle through, rasping 

Ink-black twigs together; the apples nod and
Stub their green bellies. She

Lifts ten or so down, as if they were 
Each one of her own breasts, tenderly
Filling her small basket. In the kitchen
They will sit shyly waiting their turn:

It is the season for other foods; in 
Stoneware bowls, nuts and citrus

Talk among themselves in distant tongues.
Here her hands make outland meals,
Even finding work for lemon skins.

Granny Smiths are not much favored,
Really, by her guests; in festive mood, if an 
Apple is desired, they'll reach for waxed,
Not thinking of that one tree, struggling
Night and day to keep for them fresh joy. 
Yet she knows she cannot blame them;

Shy apples do their best in pie.
Moonlight limns the fruit she did not pick;
If some green globes remain at large tonight,
The morning light will prove, tomorrow,
Holiday for those that cannot buy.
Squirrels and towhees will know what to do.




Monday, March 26, 2018

What to Do with Leaves

What to do with leaves, if one cannot leave them
Here beneath aspen, gum, maple and birch
As what they become in winter, a kind of skirt
To warm and feed fanned roots, is gather and

Toss them on a garden. She spreads hers
Over bed and path alike, with straw, with

Dead grass and weeds, barn bedding, the contents
Of kitchen bucket and tumble barrel, along

With any foliage that comes to hand, even prunings
If too small to bother with for her iron stove.
This is for worms and all their small companions
Heaving aside the earth of path and bed alike,

Leveling and loosening, making untilled tilth.
Evening comes and she stills, listening
As the city of humus thrums toward spring.
Very likely it's best to interfere not
Even this much in things, she tells herself, yet
She's always loved to tell her children: eat.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Beets Are a Thing

Beets are a thing, she mused; all summer
Every seed she'd planted out refused
Every opportunity to sprout, but 
Those in flats thrived, just as those
Seedsmen told her they would not.

As for after they were transplanted, well!
Rare was the beet that was not found by gophers.
Even so, some were left not quite finished

As the gophers waddled away, and

Those she was grateful for. She brought in
Her greens; made wilted salad; then
In winter came across again the muddy half-moons.
Nothing is better than gifted beetroot steamed,
Gopher bitten, she told herself, or otherwise.




Monday, March 12, 2018

What to Do about Trees

What to do about trees, for she had room:
Have an orchard. But isn't that thinking
About twenty years ahead? So she went
To the tool room for her spade in November;

Took that and four apple saplings down
Onto the flat by the road, and began. Years she

Did this, working up and around the rise
Of better ground. Pears, cherries, quince

Abounded, but the plums got blight, and had to
Be started over. She was too old to harvest
Or even get shade from nut trees, they're so slow;
Uncoupling crop from objective, she anyway set
Them out, along with all the rest. Last, she 

Thought of mulberries. The hens could have
Really used those. Oh, well. She ordered,
Even this late in life, and planted once more,
Even as those old hens looked on amazed:
Something to offer folks not yet alive.




Monday, March 5, 2018

The Rhythm of the Work

The rhythm of the work is to set down
Her padded bench, a flat and trowel at the
End of a bed and drop as if in prayer,

Reach for the trowel (bent for her old
Hand at right angles), dig, then grope for a pot.
You may see each hole is deep and wide enough
To exactly take the root ball. She carefully
Holds this in her shade, tips the damp
Mass in, packs with trowel, repeats all -- three

Or four times -- then stands. Behind her, some
Four plants glow green in any six feet of bed.

The rhythm of this work, when best, resembles
How monks or nuns in supplication glide
Easily to the floor, centered, unconcerned 

With body or mind, then rise, then glide again,
Outcomes not sought, nor merit earned.
Right to the end of the bed she goes,
Kneeling to simply do with her rough hands.




Begin

This time of year that room is not much visited. Its herringbone-patterned floor of worn bricks tilts here and there where rodents hav...