I learned to garden from my mother
who didn’t garden.
She believed nature took care
of that sort of thing.
What didn’t find its way to blossom
or fruit; of its own accord
wasn’t meant to be.
She raised me the same way.
My personality, introverted, wary
a sensitive willowy weeper, to her
was as troublesome as an invasive species.
My garden was born from sand.
The first year I spent spring and summer
digging holes, picking rocks,
pulling roots, mixing soil and finally;
planting sixty-seven native New England
perennials. Salty creative juices
flowing from my pores.
Once all were placed, carefully
inside their muddy thrones
crowning green potential
What if it’s all wrong?
Autumn was the season of second guessing.
I extracted one plant after the other, tearing
tender roots free. Anger fueled my passion
as I dethroned and apologized to the victims
of my innocent ignorance. Promising
never to move them again, I pleaded
with them, not to die.
Some didn’t make it through my torment.
Cruel determination to get this right.
I listen to other women talk
about their gardens.
They make it sound so simple
natural and relaxing. They talk about
pregnancy the same way. Their glow
how much they love being pregnant,
a mother. Gardening.
I wanted my child like I wanted my garden,
until I heard him cry.
Before the nurse could hand him to me,
my innocent prince of broken promises;
before I looked at his angel face,
I told her to take him to the nursery.
Shocked as the roots of the plants
I tore from my new garden,
she took him away.
Our crucial beginning
we never recovered from.
Today my mother is alone. Surrounded
by easy to care for plastic flowers.
Dunk them into dishwater, a couple violent
shakes, and voila! fresh as can be.
The sweet smell behind the veil
of cigarette smoke, that smothers everything,
comes from a battery-powered air freshener
spraying perfume pollen, like pesticide,
into her tiny apartment every twenty minutes.
My son is thirty-three years old
and wants nothing to do with me.
I don’t blame him, he cried for my love.
Begged me not to leave him, but I did
again and again; I tore myself free.
Its late fall and although most gardeners
have already put their gardens to bed, I wait.
I wait until every blossom and bee and
butterfly are gone. I wait until everything
green is brown. I wait until all potential for
life is done, before I carefully cut, trim, feed,
and finally; put my garden to bed.