Saturday, February 09, 2008

Orphaned poem

Dead Letter: August, 1993

The St. Augustine has overrun the blueberries. Again I pull
the knotty runners, tough snapping roots. My scraped hands
bleed. Mint fills the blackberry bed. The berry canes escape,

runners tunneling under, springing up bristled and gangly
fifteen feet away, beneath the fig trees I set too close, because
I was impatient, because I wanted our garden now, not after

you’d gone. Scarlet runner beans climb string teepees. Basils
everywhere. Seven kinds of rosemary. My favorite: a trailer in
near-constant bloom, prostrate, rooting into the mulched paths

at every point that touches ground. No asparagus (its deep
preparation, five-year wait). No grapes, though you wanted
grapes, though I gave in and planted grapes: the vines outran

the trellis, sprawl along the roof I’m too afraid to climb on.
Lemon grass tall and waving in a single season like bundled
flashing knives. Oregano. Pennyroyal. Bay beside the door,

because we tired of hauling it inside in winter. Now, when freezes
threaten, I wrap the tree in quilts, tuck a work light beneath
for warmth. Our darling monster bay. I lost the lemon

eucalyptus. Haven’t tried again. Cilantro’s green all winter.
And parsley. The epazote I tried only once refuses to go away:
knotty seedlings spring up in the daylily beds, in the roses,

through cracks in the concrete drive. More blueberries. A peach
that’s never kept its fruit, just nickel size. An Asian pear. Figs.
A scarlet passion vine I grew from seed, coddling it along for five

months before I set it out, certain two days later it was dying.
Surprised to later find the tendrils snagging roses. That blossom
worth the wait, like the night-blooming cereus I’d started from

a leaf: perfection. You’d have said so. You’d hardly recognize
the garden now.

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