A life history in suburban plantings

We’re a flower-hungry people, so you know “bloom where you’re planted”: from that land of live oak, bluebonnets, prickly pear you grow in a neighborhood draped with ivy and crepe myrtle. Rooted shallow and wide. Your own first garden unshaded, broad-bladed grass framed by marigold, vinca, mint.

What root traces your steps

to prairie snow, sugar beets, lilac by the door? The spreading apple tree, dandelion spring. Your first taste of hate for forsythia follows to southern pine forests, thin wood at playground’s edge, understory ferns’ moist heat.

What love for a place you never belonged?

Thinking to settle: the huge rain-flopped peony, ants swarming on the buds, short burst of cerise and the cheerful yellow rose. In back, a fragrant heirloom shrub (so your children shower you with petals).

What root graces your steps

to a place of language you can’t speak? Though you can hear its nature through the soles of your feet. Rosenbogen wreathed in pink, balcony view of trellised garnet-red, scented cream-peach Vorstadt walk.

Such love for a place you never belonged.

Now you are here, tamed by hosta, daylily, boxwood hedge. Your roses true knockouts (though bees don’t care) gleaming ruby in the light. Heart-shriveled, craving green-wild and the overthrow of mulch.

What root tangles your steps

and what blame if you guard yourself from sinking right in? You’re the dandelion fluff blown by any new wind…

IMG_2849

given: what have i/what can i/what could i have

for M., A., & P.C.

first, life—but what of it
life is all around, this collection of cells
bodies coming together
time and time and time

love—have you always known
not adoring eyes but daily bread
and fencing to keep you safe
how you shook it, railing
doubt and doubt and doubt

some lesson—what is it
that mistakes can or can’t be
forever, a path misstepped
can be straightened and lead where—?—
it always wanted to go
(regret no and no and no)

being every summer’s pledge
to keep tomato vines trim
zucchini picked small
what luxury are we, unpruned
and what cruel joke of divine design
that we bloom fully
only in the eye of the tearing wind

IMG_0015

reparable

moss
the lesson, if it could be
so simple: see how
the cobble-moss is tough
(we walk and wheelbarrow it
over) yet so easy to uproot
(even without intention)
to rake it out and away

arbor
we say it can be
no older than the house
(so younger than Us)
but see how it rots
where wood meets earth
and the fitting-together gives
until a strong wind (or mere gust
from the right direction)
threatens to topple it

patching it up
hammer and stake, a length
of twine, and this time
no need to make a fuss
if it holds

IMG_2845