(Or The Weight of Garments in the Pull of the Stream)
When we moved into this house,
the old woman was digging turnips from the ground
on a Sunday morning.
She would cut back the rhododendrons
when they began to block the walkway
to her front door. She would sort the decorative stones
blown into the flower beds. She would pull nets like swaddling
over the young fruit-
She told me she never enjoyed gardening before
she inherited the work from her husband.
Another four years, she tilled and planted
the small kitchen garden –
She tended and harvested. She died
in winter – now two years ago.
She’d slipped on the deck after pulling the last
of the year’s carrots from the ground
with her bare hands. It’s quickly done, the moss
growing so quickly over the boards from the end of summer.
They wrapped her light, bird-body
in a housecoat and drove her across town
where she floated away in a soft bed, in clean sheets.
On Sunday I’ll rouse myself to work in the garden.
I’ll sort the bark from the marble stones we brought in this summer
to surround the new, blue ceramic birdbath. I’ll check
the hedgehog’s water bowl we keep hidden in the holly hedge.
I’ll clear out the beds of my new, little greenhouses –
crowded with the sweet potato shoots that never took hold
and the blood-veined leaves of beetroots that are rotting
into the soil, preparing it for next spring.
I’ll try again
while the new neighbors park their car
where the old woman’s strawberries were. They’re talking
of paving over the yard entirely
since they like big gatherings at the week-ends.
The late autumn rain runs off the roofs of both our houses
and flows into the ditch that runs down the middle of the driveway –
leaving wayward stones, dead leaves, and plastic wrappers
in the trap.
There is still that to clear out on a Sunday morning.