Garden of Growth

The seeds grow in gray, rough soil.
Most will perish in fruitless toils.
Their compost holds kernels of mealy progress,
micro machines, tiny books of dreams
to clothe tender roots, trichomes,
which suckle death’s fruits to renew and redeem,
to claim their stake of beauty, or weedy nonchalance.
This war marches on and the drama rolls dreamy
each rising and falling in a seasonal dance.
I used to cradle those leafy twigs,
laughing and crying at their rhythmical trance.
I fiddled and darted, lost and ready
to control that volume of verdant folly.
Never did I stop to see
nature would have its way with me.
I staked stems, preened buds, willed red berries on holly.
I coveted and thrashed, sprayed and mulched,
beamed with delight at delphiniums blue night
but daily squished aphids with no melancholy.
I toiled from dawn to dusk to clutch this magic.
The branches of Hinoki would finally reach an archetype,
which deemed necessary the scene be balanced
by the tragic hacking of nearby Hamamelis.
Miscanthus had to clump here, always just so.
Trailing Nasturtium must ramble freely
over carefully chaotic, moss tufted patio.
Cardinal Richelieu finally gave up the ghost
after five uprootings, a necessary evil to aptly pair
his wine purple rose with more heathen hosts.
Temporary solutions were compulsive conditions
to conquer the moment, cling to its passing.
My love for the machine was a frivolous desire
for mighty dominance, a narcissistic persistence
to reign with sturdy diligence over ancient fires.
This chimera dwindled with thousands of hours
of pushing days in a stubborn wheelbarrow,
driving my load to pattern and style this living sculpture.
Time ground me down in its meticulous way.
My back and a bad hip took the fun from the play.
As I feared, things went wild, they flattened
and ruptured, and cheated my rules.
The Lungwort took advantage
and had its way, finding time to mat and
colonizing a corner with spotted progeny.
At first I complained and planned my revenge
taking solace in winter’s clutch of frozen sheath.
Then, tough rubric knots let loose their tether
as my life became twinned by other events,
and the Plumbago’s happy rush beneath
pink Asters fence seemed their own private
dispute, their outcome, their worry.
I grew accustomed to this unkempt gloss
as the garden grew daring and shone a soft gleam.
Now that I merely watch this scene from afar,
I am more in it than I was before
as roots can grow deeper and top more secure.
Five years have passed since I relinquished power.
Ten years before that I clutched at this stream
while its crumbled message flowed through my fingers.
These quiet stories have matured with age
and their gravitas draws my eyes to wonder
at authority I could never imagine,
from my hubris grew this quiet lesson.
The constance of change has more than one page.
I come away sage, having learned not to confuse
dreams of perfection with nature’s carnival muse.

A few days ago I promised a report on how my garden defines me. It turned into this.

I would like to dedicate this to my father, Francis Hugh, whose ripening wisdom grows regal with age. He turned 78 on September 26 while I managed to miss that important date. I sent him a card saying if age is a contest, he’s winning.
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5 thoughts on “Garden of Growth

  1. Garnet, this is a real gem. While reading it I was catapulted back many years to a scene involving myself at around age 5 and my mother. We were at an amusement park, and I was riding a small automobile on a track. I took my job very seriously, grasping that steering wheel for dear life, teeth clenched, desperately following each turn of the track lest I lose control. When I finally stepped out of the car, ashen, shaken and nearly sick to my stomach, my mother informed me that it hadn’t been necessary for me to steer. I didn’t get another ride; thank god you did.

  2. Belated congratulations to your father!

    I know precisely what you mean about delphiniums and I’m pretty sure that we all know how much may depend upon a wheelbarrow, whether red or not! Your poem luxuriates in itself, like a good garden and your conclusion is both witty and wise. The garden always wins in the end. Have you ever come across Andrew Marvell’s poem “The Garden”? If you have, then you’ll know why I mention it, but if not, I think you might enjoy it.

  3. And I never get there when I think that I am in control.

    You took me back to my garden and to how I could not be near it without being part of it. It was not my garden. I was it’s caretaker. You have captured that realization. I could not spend a minute there without feeling the metaphor of life. That garden’s make us look so smart. We put something in the ground and nature gives us something beautiful or not. Like life it works best when we surrender our needs and go where the garden takes us.

    Exquisite poetry. Masterful. Thank you.

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