Oddments

In search of story


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September 25.22: Coping, but barely

Ceres paints in shades of cream,

daubing light like candle gleam

in autumn;

a mother’s sign when daughter leaves,

soft-whistling wind in union grieves

in autumn;

in seed-pod spike, in brittle stem,

desiccated requiem,

in autumn;

grasses in allegiance tender

bow their annual surrender

in autumn;

luminous mantle, light as breath,

gentle over sleep and death,

in autumn;

mother’s vigil thus ignited

over waning year twilighted,

in autumn.

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg

and to artful arranger D.J. Berg.


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September 11.22: Coping, but barely

It’s a cool, dense September rain, grey as the sky, its splashes welcomed by the bowed heads of late summer’s garden. It is noisy, it is quiet, back and forth, to make me listen.

The images of the day, the somber pageantry in England, the shock and suffering of 9/11, tumble about in my head, looking for grounding.

At my front door, out of the rain’s refreshment, the potted pineapple mint looks longingly outward, poor thing, that cannot move itself. I step out into the cool drone of the shower, and there, against the sostenuto of the rain, the cricket’s aria. A piercing oneness.

The mint looks grateful as the drops wash over it, and I stand, stopped.

Were you ever surprised, dear reader, at how the tumble in your head was stilled by something so simple and ordinary as cricket song?


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August 18.22: Coping, but barely

The almosts of the garden — I know them and yet I disbelieve. Almost ripe. Almost ready. The bud on the vine, swaddling life snugly within itself, almost a melon, almost a squash, almost a morning glory. I know what it will be and yet I disbelieve. The wonder of it is as new as the almost itself.

To watch is to disbelieve. It cannot be that Puritan-plain dirt conjures such richness of tapestry and ornament, emerald and amethyst, filigree of leaf and tendril. From the muslin of February to the brocade of August there is nothing believable. In a slow burst, the almosts bloom to opulence in velvety defiance of winter’s naysayers.

In the almost is the breath-stop, the cannot-be, that gossamer moment that hovers like the hummingbird I cannot hold.

 

 

Practicing prose poetry

with thanks to my son’s tomato forest.


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August 11.22: Coping, but barely

Wrath. It is said to be sinful. I think not. There are times when extreme anger is a virtue. OK, so I’m not a moral theologian.

The problem with anger is how it fevers and boils under a tight lid, that lid that bounces and clatters as it tries to hold in the steam pushing up and, inexorably, out. Eventually there is a lava that oozes over, a thick anger, blackened and petrified wherever it congeals. Or the vapor writhes away, leaving only the distilled curls of rage.

Gardeners are lucky. They can scroll the news, public or personal, and immediately grab weapons of grass destruction. Stabbing, wrenching, yanking, soul-satisfying wrath. Crabgrass is therapy. With roots that clutch the deepest core of the earth and blades that hack their way through other life, it bares its coarse green teeth, snarling, daring the gardener to fight to the death.

As a normal thing, I am a proud, peaceful wimp; however, I espouse white-knuckled violence when it comes to crabgrass, and I enthusiastically endorse wrathful gardening.

 

Practicing prose poetry. And apparently alliteration. (Do any of you find yourselves writing/talking/muttering to yourselves in alliterative words? It’s scary.)


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July 25.22: Coping, but barely

A garden in a kettle,

what enticement to know more;

no ordinary flowerpot

hints so of family lore.

Kettles are like aprons,

remnants, scraps and shreds

of kitchens gone to dust

except inside our heads.

Replaced by kitchen jewelry

gleaming, digitized,

its plump and stolid air

is yet unbowdlerized.

Something in its roundness

brings noodle dough to mind,

vegetable soup with barley,

doughnuts cinnamon-brined,

children up on tip-toe

to watch and sniff, content,

the world in proper order

as it was surely meant.

Today its storied depths

give rise to happy greenery,

rooted, like our memories,

in distant kitchen scenery.

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg,

and to gardener and family preservationist D.J. Berg.

 


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July 14.22: Coping, but barely

Does a garden laugh?

Yes. That’s what I think.

What could else explain

this impertinence of pink?

No sooner had I written of

snapdragons’ ruffled white

than this haughty pale bubblegum

erupted into sight.

Did I plant this nonconformist,

this blushing heliophile?

No. It planted its own self,

chuckling all the while.

Its merriment unbridled

in my gardener’s flabbergast,

it reveled in its message:

it’s the garden that laughs last.

 

 


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June 24.22: Coping, but barely

The seed speaks

in snowy mound

pledge and mandate:

life is round.

In revolution

measured, steady,

resurrection

at the ready,

turning, turning,

seed to seed,

to shade, to soothe,

to thrill, to feed.

In cycles spoked

by dark and light,

gardener’s sure

gem√ľtlichkeit.

 

You may recall, dear reader, the tiny green shoots I spotted in the gravel — in the gravel! — my first summer here. Snapdragons? I so carefully dug them up and transplanted them. And now their descendants bloom like a petticoat ruffle, smugly cautioning me never ever to underestimate life.