Thursday, February 18, 2016

What was hers, but is not hers just now

What was hers, but is not hers just now,
Having suffered a rising tide of voles
And other rodents (she does not doubt), is
The potting shed/solarium, a domain in

Which she'd reigned, she thought, for decades.
All of it, she'd built herself. Gathering
Slats of rough hewn barn wood, windows,

Heaps of antique bricks, a long green bench,
Ever more pots and flats, bins and trowels,
Royally she'd treated herself to her heaven,
Seedlings doing as she'd have them do.

But then: disaster. Peas and beans tucked
Under skeins of soil vanished by ones and
Threes -- whole flats of corn plowed up.

Is there nothing to be done, she wonders,
Short of slaughter by nefarious means?

Not the first option. She casts about among
Old tosswares in corners and on shelves.
This rolled-up screening might do. Shears in

Hand, she measures as one measures cloth,
Ever minding the selvage, to create caps
Rodents might decline to chew.
Slipping these into place, adding to each

Just one stone per corner, using
Up the Buddha cairns she'd made
Stacked here and there round the room.
The precept honored, she waters all,

Not neglecting to sprinkle stones.  
Outcomes must be as they must be.
We find well that find we do not reign. 

It begins with mare's tails

It begins with mare's tails: wisps of ice
That spread, ghostly fingers from

Beyond the southwestern horizon; her
Ears feel the chill as she is planting bulbs.
"Go inside," her chapped hands urge her,
"Inside, your steaming kettle waits."
"Not yet," she replies. In her mind's eye
She watches thousands of daffodils bloom

Where grass grew. She must plant hundreds
If her dream will breathe. Altocumulus,
Those clouds like schools of fish, arrive.
Her hands are hurting her now; cold clay

Milking moisture from gapped skin.
As she bends, shovel in one hand,
Round brown balls of life in the other,
Each destined for a hole along her fence,
She senses wind lifting skirts of

The cottonwoods and willows. Raindrops
Are arriving now, slanting through trees,
Investing her sleeves and hair with wet.
Leaving off at last, she, crutching on her
Shovel, pivots toward tea, book and fire.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

That time when there is yet nothing

That time when there is yet nothing,
Her skills being at rest, synchronized
And sympathetic with soil's sleep --
Timid buds of lilac or jonquil still

Tucked within themselves -- she wonders
If she's even a subsistence woman, is
Mistaken in that as so much else, as when
Even deep snow cannot efface what

Winter erases when it is nearest spring.
Her hands stretch to packaged seeds;
Enter into bargains with their quietude.
Now? Now? Now? Now? she asks them,

Though she knows they will not move.
Here by a cold window she spreads
Envelopes on her table: peas, beets.
Radishes will be first, nearest the house.
Even now she smells them, lifted, bitten.

Is there nothing that can be done?
She asks for the hundredth time.

You'd think the mud would dry a little,
Evenings come later, mornings earlier,
The birds nest and sing, daisies open!

No. Tools rest in their ranks, sharpened,
Oiled. Clouds pass, low, lightless, sulking.
The arbor's done, fences, orchard, 
Heaps heaped. All she needs today
Is that this blank month turn a little
Nearer sun, before her plot of earth
Grazes on forgetfulness too soon.