Tuesday, April 26, 2016

These are not the tomatoes

These are not the tomatoes she wanted,
Heirlooms such as Cherokee Purple, or
Even Brandywines. But the clerk only
Sells what's brought in, finds labels, wands
Each three-inch pot through as she would

A bag of chips or box of three penny nails.
Really, the old woman muses, I should have
Ended my day at the seedsman, but it's not

Near here -- what, twenty miles? So I've
Opted for the discount store again, to buy
These things that hurt my soul: hybrids.

There's this about them, they do produce
Heavy fruits that please her folks and friends
Easily enough, and in larger numbers. But

To her there's something in them lacking.
Old varieties taste of the eyes of young
Men, of weeping, of laughter, of
A child's anger at being teased, of
The confusion of having one's braid pulled.
On the hybrids she can't say as much.
End to youth, beginning of sameness; a
Safety that came to her too soon.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The cool-weather plants

The cool-weather plants have bolted, and she
Has had to gather the saddest cases.
Even kale, not last year's but this year's, and 

Chard are defying the routine she has,
Over decades, established as garden law.
Often she walks through now, knife in hand,
Lopping flowering stalks, vainly trying

Whether some leaves can be kept soft
Even as the heat chases her dream of spring 
Away again. Like last year. Like the year before.
There's something to be said for radishes,
Her bowl tells her, which is that it is not
Empty. With arugula and rocket, leaves
Ripped from already woody stems, snipped,

Piled loosely, steamed lightly, stirred
Lazily with duck egg on hot iron
And tipped out onto a wrap, she'll
Not starve today. Not that she would;
Times were, she, younger, put things by.
Shelves filled, bins groaned. A fear of

Hunger to come, of poverty, keeps her
Away from the cellar nowadays. She
Values what's to be had from sun to sun.
Even in real winters, there had always

Been something to scrape for under snow.
Over her now emptied bowl she, sated,
Lingers, watching shadows move. It's 
That sun that worries her, drying
Even early crops. Could even her
Death come as rain, that would bless.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

At her western window

At her western window, she's stitching.
The needle pricks her sometimes. She moves

Her hand aside to not bleed on silk.
Even as she works, her waxed thread in
Rows appearing like commas, she sees a

Western meadowlark pounce in tall grass
Ever growing, unmowed, outside. When
She stops, peering over thick lenses
To note the meadowlark has a grub, to her
Ears come, faintly, short songs of its mate.
Reaching for her scissors, she snips a tail,
Nudges it out of sight behind a stitch.

When this row is done, she'll ask her mate
If it will do. If not, she'll turn her mother's
Needle and pull thread, loop by loop 
Down to the place her mind wandered.
O meadowlark, I must look away!
Wonder does not always aid one's work.