PORTRAIT OF THE GARDEN BEFORE FROST

 

Too many weeds and the overgrowth of thyme,
sprawl of echinacea, hollyhock and balm
sprouting all over and tipping, and rosebushes
with their swollen hips and beetle-hole trim.

Soft tomatoes drop from blighted stems,
slug-gnawed peppers rot.
Tough-skinned zucchini lizards
stalk among mildewed leaves.

Are these bloated yellow giants
the cukes I planted here among the beans?
Pumpkin vines crawl across remains
of flowering radish and lettuce gone to seed.

On paper it was perfect, neat:
the gourds all there, just so,
not a bug or weed,
carrots in their tidy rows.

But July was hot and August dry;
rabbits came, and things sprang up volunteer.
Weird squashes took root around the compost
and I had no heart to pull them away.

I cannot help but be surprised–
this life, the garden that happens,
this unexpected confusion sprung
from desire and chance and choice,
this complicated fruiting of order and dream.

August 30, 2003

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