You mix Miracle-Gro with insecticide
a peculiar pairing for the vegetable garden
where you are enemy of potato bug, scourge
of flea beetle, and crusher of tomato worm
that takes its nourishment from a nightshade
plant, deadly for others but food to grow
from worm to ultimate flight as moth, leaving
us to hope for time for a second leafing, all
the while admiring the jewel of camouflage
that is its green and luminous stock-in-trade.
While you were gone
we pillaged your provender.
Husky heads of lettuce fed us
for days on end. (Do you mind?)
We eyed the tomatoes jealously
but obviously they weren’t ready––
too pinchy-green. (You know
what I mean.) By the time they’re
ripe you may travel again. We’ll
gladly look after your place if
you let us know.
Deer have nibbled bush and tree
have ended the blooming of phlox
before it began. What next?
Will they jump the fence
of the vegetable garden to join
the porcupine’s destructive way
in this year when he descended
the oaks for a taste of something
other than acorns? In one night
the green beans gone, broccoli
Swiss chard and kale ravished,
bolted lettuce left for us.
Is there time for a second planting?
The triple threat of goldenrod
aster and ripening elderberry
signals No! But why not gamble
on a late frost? Let’s put the seed
in the ground and mark it “hope.”
The winter I had pneumonia
the body-I was teetering. Hanging
between heaven and hell,
I couldn’t move a pinkie finger.
Call Kathleen, I told my husband.
She knew the room between life
and death, and if anyone could
stay the dark angel, it was she.
Through sweat-soaked flannel
of nightgowns, pajamas, day after
day, night after night, weeks
of wild coughing, crazy to catch
some breath between spasms––
water and juice, juice and water
food out of the question, ’til
my husband baked a chocolate
cream pie, and the healing began.
Six months gone, I consigned pneu-=
monia to the rumble seat, and good
health itself took over the steering wheel.
It’s the first week of February.
Wild apples picked in October
have shriveled into themselves.
No longer suitable for apple pie
we dump them out for the herd of deer
that haunted our woods through
January, scavenging among spruce,
standing on hind legs in the snow
to reach the buds of high-bush and tree.
There’s no distinction on the ground––
everything was eaten as we found
the morning after a moonlit meal in Maine.
Black-flies enter my writing house.
Too numerous to count, they hurry
across and up and down the window panes
fitfully seeking escape, unaware of the spider
two panes over, watching to see how well
its webbing will work.
The black-flies flew
through the open door. Granted they didn’t
know of the spider, but fly they did, and walk
they will into the webbing. The room throbs
with inevitability. They will be etherized
like Eliot’s patient upon the table, as will we
for better or worse in the end.
Enamored of all about the beloved
––by the eye, the hand, the trembling mouth––
the lover is undone.
For me, it’s egg salad sandwiches.’’
Inspired by a distant view of The People
––breeding, borning, living, dying––
the revolutionary is undone.
But for me, it’s egg salad sandwiches.
Give me a wedding where the budget is low
guests on folding chairs row on row
plates piled high with the hens’ sweet roe.
Yes, for me it’s egg salad sandwiches.
Soggy white triangles with hardening crust
preferably no lettuce but mayo a must.
The newlyweds plight their troth and their trust.
As for me, it’s egg salad sandwiches.