Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty: A Poem


(“You must come to see me,” he says. “I will show you my garden.” Then when you go just to please him you will find him with his rump sticking up somewhere among the perennials… – from The Gardener’s Year, by Karel Capek)

I do it because it is outdoors
Because I can
Because you can do it alone
And you need – very little – but not nothing
You need a growing season.
(What am I doing in New England?)
I take no prisoners
I take no shit
(except out of the manure bag)
I need growing things – creatures willing to grow
Any volunteers?

Let me tell you about spring,
When the earth looses its madmen
And ambitions grow like weeds –
No, that would take too long.
Summer is ravishing, ecstatic, nature on steroids.
Summer is falling in love – wild, messy, overheated.
Lush. Inebriated.
Too damn short.
In addition to which, nothing you do then is ever good enough
To satisfy the wild sense of possibility
You smell like the desire of the stamen for the
Honey bee’s many legs
And even if it were, you can’t stop time

And at the end, when it’s all in the rearview mirror,
Or all in your head, make-believe, even,
when you are sobering down with a good glass of hoar frost
And a fresh delivery of number two heating oil

In the garden, even then, death is beautiful
Autumn is beautiful, like death.
Life is only valuable because we die
(If you don’t believe that, imagine life without flowers,
Families without babies)

We are obliged to be happy
We look at the fading asters, or the Montauk daisies, or the furtive, modest, ravishing anemone and realize, with some degree of calm,
That we are all on our way, in time, out of time,
To the same place
Which, if we are lucky,
Will strongly resemble a garden

In the garden, I know,
That everything is forever and always was
Until it isn’t
And even then I’m hedging my bets
Because, understand, there’s a garden metaphor for everything,
Even the things we haven’t thought of