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She's Neglected Her Garden
Martta Rose Kelly
She’s neglected her garden:
The flower beds are blanketed with layer upon layer
of dead leaves and ground rot.
Wild onions, that scourge of the suburbs,
grow in places once reserved for grass.
Rocks embedded in the soil
make it unsuitable for living things, except slugs.
If this garden was a book,
it would be titled, "Failure to Thrive."
But once upon a time,
She was full of piss and vinegar,
Attacking the crabgrass with impunity,
rooting out all evil
in the form of burdock and thorny stalks
No dandelion puff was safe from her wrath.
Then arthritis took hold,
burrowing into her joints like bulbs
embedded in her gnarled, purplish hands.
She no longer took pleasure in her garden,
Memories of sun-drenched leaves, perfect blooms,
and dew-dipped stems were replaced,
by pain and morning stiffness.
It would be early afternoon
until she could even make it downstairs,
to look out upon the sanctuary she once loved.
I’ve inherited her garden,
With its never-ending weeds,
leaves and pests.
It’s a work in progress but with no end in sight.
One day, though, it will come back
and, like the old woman, I will take much pride in it.
I will have sunflowers with heads bigger than my own,
pumpkin patches with big vines,
snaking their way down under the fence.
Blue bachelor’s buttons, pink phlox, yellow daffodils,
all shouting their names.
I will usher friends and loved ones into the backyard
Before they’ve had their tea.
But I know that one day, too,
something will prevent me from going out back,
and my garden with wither once again,
until some ambitious person with a rake and a dowel
will remark to her friends, "She’s neglected her garden."
© 2008 by Martta Rose Kelly.
Used here with permission.
Martta Rose Kelly attended the 1995 Breadloaf Writers Workshop in VT and enjoys growing things, running, cooking, writing poetry, and photography. She lives with her husband, Tom, and three cats--Cassie, Casper and Captain Jack--in West Orange, New Jersey.
My mother had a magnificent garden and when she died, Daddy let it go to ruin. Very sad all the way around.
Posted 10/25/2014 11:01 AM
Third line up from bottom--with to will. Great imagery!
Posted 10/25/2014 09:18 AM
Wow, I sure relate to this poem. I had to turn to hanging baskets. But once upon a time I had the pumpkins too. I love the feeling of hope in the poem.
Posted 10/25/2014 08:54 AM