A poem a week until the entire book is blogged.

Monday, July 16, 2018

What Rain Is For

The last three summers, as she recalls them, 
Her heavy-clay bit of earth opened hexagonally;
Into the depths she stared, seeing dry darkness
So desiccated, she fancied worms and millipedes

In despair had decamped, seeking other worlds.
She poked at crevasses with her stick, finding bottom

Well deeper than twelve inches. Not knowing
How to garden in any but a rain forest, she
Attacked books and websites for some scheme
The budget could be stretched for: shade cloths,

Raised beds, huge-log hugelkulturs, keyhole beds.
All were possible, but her hands, old, worked
In fits and starts; her money allocated elsewhere.
Now she startles, looking at her night sky, so steeped

In stars all summer, finding it black and close.
Some drops, like bad boys' spitballs, carom off her 

Face. More, and now she's happily drenched in her
Old nightgown, dancing slow circles. Autumn proves
Real at last. This dance is what rain is for.




Monday, July 9, 2018

See It Through

One should not have an orchard and
Not care for it; so she tries,
Even lurches from the depths of a chair

She's found at some thrift, pre-softened; from
Her house, warm or cool as she might wish,
Out into too much sun or too much rain; from
Under the kind roof of a porch she'd built,
Leaving tool after tool there to gather
Dust and webs, marks of a new will to

Neglect. Beyond the weed-bent fence, an
Orchard of sorts awaits her care, each
Task having skipped two years at least. 

Hands grasp lopper and saw. She visits
Apple, quince, pear, plum, cherry, clipping
Vines, tall weeds, watersprouts, suckers;
Even designates branches for her stove.

As the forenoon warms, she strips off
Now her hat, next jacket, shirt and gloves,

Old skin offered to thorns, thistles, 
Rough bark. Really she'd meant to hire it done, 
Children of neighbors being short on cash.
Habit, she could call it. Habit, and the way
Apples come best that see right sun,
Ripe enough to pay her for some pains.
Do a thing yourself to see it through.




Monday, July 2, 2018

Who Lives

She drags her rusty kneeler as way opens
amid plants knee high, wetting her blue
trousers in dew, as clouds decide 

to open or not, as the morning star
recedes and hides itself, with a sliver
of new moon, in day. Poppies

have not yet awakened, nor daisies.
She kneels and kneels again, eyeing
potato vines, chard, kale, spinach, beets

to see are they hiding pretenders beneath
their skirts: thistle, geranium, nipplewort,
even nascent blackberries, ash trees, an oak.

Most of all, she seeks out bindweed, a long
vine snaking from place to place, climbing, 
smothering fruitful things. She knows

she's prejudiced, but her rationale is: 
bindweed's not for eating; raspberries are. Her
hands elect who dies, who lives today.




Monday, June 25, 2018

Distracted

She went to fight bindweed
among cabbages, peas,
borage, arugula,

potatoes, raspberries
and such. Distracted by
thistles, as they are more

easily removed, she
worked an hour, then eased
ponderously into  

her cracked resin chair, out
of breath, watching two gold-
finches having it out

on a mossy fence post.
What is not said in six
syllables is silence.




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.




What Rain Is For

The last three summers, as she recalls them,  Her heavy-clay bit of earth opened hexagonally; Into the depths she stared, seeing dry...