Gardening Blues

This poem appears in Four Blue Eggs, available if you click here. A few more clicks and it will conveniently appear in your mailbox or on your doorstop.

Arboriculture

I’m sure the red mulch
spread beneath the dormant azalea
has in its loamy peat the macerated remnants
of a massive Louisiana cypress.
I know it in my bones.

Somewhere in the swamps
of Atchafalaya, an ancient
colossus towering hundreds of feet
fell with the unheard echo
of a stolen temple bell. The harvested

trophy died again at the mill,
chomped to confetti by the grimacing
false teeth of a machine. I suffer
the russet sin with my arms elbow deep
in agriculture as I distribute
the ground cover around sweet william

and verbena blossoms in the front yard.
I’m hardly as wicked with those;
their plastic trays were purchased
from the farm stand where tiny, ripe
organic strawberries pleased my lips

and sour cherries melted like wine
lozenges in my mouth. I spit the pits
out the car window on the drive home.
But I am wicked to the core
and today, the supermarket is closer

to the mail drop and the library
where mediocre books, half-read
are overdue, and those bags of the dirty fill,
stacked on the concrete walkway near the store
seem so utilitarian, so earthy

and convenient, plus I hate the weeds
that the bag promises to squelch
and the neighbor, with her elegant
foxgloves and geraniums is really
the one to blame for this. But I cannot

loose the swamp cypresses
from my mind, these conifers, these
sacred fellows holding the soil in
with their gracious roots, exhaling
with delicate silence. I feel like God

doling out the flood waters
with bloody hands handsomely disguised
by garden gloves. I am a fraud, a pirate,
and when the levees break again
I will sink into a counterfeit soil and drown.

gourd blossom 4

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