Midway through uprooting Bermuda grass in the yard, I’m inspired to write a poem.
Each clutch of roots from the earth a new metaphor:
This gnarled bunch, a tuft of mischievous boy’s hair;
That mother of all taproots, a handful of mangled molars,
A reverse reminder of a scene from a Saturday television matinee
of Jason and the Argonauts where a squad of skeletons
are born from a sack of teeth sown across the sand…
A digression, for sure, for any proper poem
but what can I say, my mind’s meandering as I work.
Thinking now of the gloves my father bought me as a bribe
to get me to work in the yard, and how that wasn’t enough
to compensate against my aversion to dirt.
How is it that, at age 45, the simple reward of silence
and incremental progress with plants stirs up so much satisfaction?
I think of Theodore Roethke and how he, up to his elbows in mulch,
could revel in sound and psyche and soil.
I think of the tired conceit of Frost’s mending fences and think,
how true, the saga of our yard has come full circle,
how tending to earth’s silent overgrowth makes me attentive to the echoes within.