Here we stand at the potting bench,
father and son and a heap of soil,
your three-year fingers delighted with the dirt
and the filling and emptying of pots.
I tell of how from simple seeds
all flowers and foods blossom,
how without grass there’d be no cows,
and how from out of grains we grow.
You turn giddy with the thought of trees
as I break open a catalpa pod
and spill silken wings in your hand.
Rattling seed packets, you plead to begin,
thinking to watch plants rise and flower
on the instant like a time-lapse movie.
But already I see exactly how each morning
we’ll run to the sun room where our nursery
will sit on the long, low radiator,
to watch for those first pale seed leaves
poking through the moss, leaning toward light.
We press seeds into spongy sphagnum,
and more end up on the floor than in pots,
but it matters not at all
since we have more than anyone could want.
Soon, sleepy-eyed and slow, you yawn
a long, milk-breathed sigh,
and I carry you up to bed
where, exhausted, you sink into the pillow
mumbling about the moon.
Later, sitting by your side, I sip hot tea,
debating if we are more an annual,
leaving only seeds behind,
ourselves dissolved to nothing,
or perennial, dying back to earth
but burgeoning again somehow
in some unimaginable soil.
From Wild Apples (Parallel Press, 2004).
Used with the author's permission.