Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Gardener Addresses the Poet:

You wrote line on line, stacked them in weary wilted mounds
until they moldered, sheer quantity mustering inner heat
in tepid imitation of the life you strove to pin to the page.

Let me tell you—the bloom is just a prologue,
a vulgar advertisement for a simple transaction
The real work, the heavy lifting comes
late in the hot season, flamboyant spring forgotten,
Lulled by cicada song and sweat stung

The true stars are the vegetable and fruit—
meek mottled vessels, packed by mad design,
not exalted on high on fragile stalks
but motionless, in sweet communion with the soil

You were distracted and misdirected by a conjurer’s trick
florid displays of no consequence; you took an easy path to fulfillment
Now release these feeble floral metaphors back into the wild,
from where you stole them, so they can regain their vigor
Meanwhile, take a good look beneath, lift the tart’s skirts;
see where your supper lies

I’ll tell you a different tale:
My love is like a kohlrabi. She glows in the midday sun
A sheen on her flawless skin. She is pale and firm and sweet
Not like some insipid pear—her sweetness hides a pungency
She is beautiful with a hint of menace in her exotic aspect.
Her roots go deep into the soil, into her place—
But the sun is her friend, spending her days seeking his embrace

Planted in cool spring, she becomes voluptuous with the warmth.
And so she will stay—if attended to.
The cool of fall, the frost, the snow will not daunt her;
They may make her sweeter, if she is nurtured and cared for.
But leave her alone, untended, ignored—the pungent will turn bitter,
the firm into hard, the sweet to stolid.
I should sample her sweetness today; I may not have time tomorrow

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