Poetry  December 2010 | issue 420

Without Tending

by Christine Poreba

CHRISTINE POREBA says that although she has received poetry awards from the Atlantic and the Potomac Review in recent years, she has never gotten over the excitement of winning first place in a national Shakespeare competition in high school. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida.



Just down the road a row of basil stands tight
in plastic bags, a line of buoys in a frigid sea,
while our yard lies open in the bitter cold.

I confess I didn’t know which plants
to cover, so I left them all to freeze.
And back in the summer I never

thinned the lettuce or tried to stop
the birds from carrying off
our spinach, corn, and sunflowers.

Even my students, adults from various
continents, speak an English I don’t
always correct:

“poultry” for poetry,
“bookkeeper” instead of librarian,
“cole” without “slaw” to mean cabbage.

Yet we plow along, the odd bunch of us,
in rows like my garden, from whose dry
soil springs a surprising pepper crop,

a generous mass of rosemary. And
my students’ words, small as seeds, stretch somehow
into sentences: weedy, bright.



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