Nancy: They're still there, lilacs rooted in tumbledown cellar holes, roses scrambling over piles of stones.
My Sister Planted Tansy By The Kitchen Door
Tansy by the kitchen door,
when there was a door, when there was
a kitchen, tansy on the west side
of the cellar hole.
Roses on the south side, the wind blew
from the south often; when the wind blew
from the south, it filled the house with a sweet smell
Lilacs by the road; there was something permanent
about lilacs, settled, formal. Even after
the house went, and the road,
Men left their names: a man’s bay,
a man’s cove, a man’s town.
They have a glassy permanence: black
and white and flat and still.
But my sister planted tansy by the kitchen door,
my sister, my sisters, sitting with me now
in a south wind heavy with roses, sitting here
where lilacs remember the road.
Alan: Lamentation, or at least a generalized grumbling, is a gardener’s default mode – along with the conviction that somewhere else lies Eden.
Broccoli Plants In July
When the lettuce and spinach don’t show
and the peas curl up in hot, dry June,
our hopes for green food tighten on broccolis –
little umbrellas out in the rain,
dreaming their heads-up, big-leafed bumbershoot dreams.
But this morning you tell me
six more have snapped in the gusty night –
so many gone! the tatters of a row –
and you say you have witnessed their dreams
pulling loose, tumbling and sailing away downwind,
seeking some kinder ground
off east in Nova Scotia.
“My Sister Planted Tansy By The Kitchen Door” first appeared in East of the Light (Stone Man Press and Slow Dancer Press, 1984)