Grandmother’s Garden

This is what I have to give to you:

two blistered hands and a garden undone.

Japanese beetles with soft blue shells

scuttling across leaves of azalea,

and aphids that feast on the foxglove and tickseed

you planted four summers ago.


Each Sunday, I fill my boots with soil

that I carry from your house to mine.

(I’m trying to learn how

to bear weight that’s not my own.)

I sink my fingers into the earth and

kneel among the seedlings for hours;

try hardier perennials

and start over for the fourteenth time.


One would think a green thumb

is passed down through generations but

I fail to sustain

the most basic succulent.

I admit I don’t know much but I

imagine it began like this:

you plucking out yarrow,

roots over your shoulder,

for there’d be no flower deaths

only irises come morning.


I never saw you leave the rows.

Then, one day,

we both were old;

each in our own ways.

All I remembered was

a tarp, a trowel,

a green gate, slowly closing.

Me on one side, you on the other

and a muffled sound, like earthworms digging

channels through the soil.


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