In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Today, I turn my attention
to the garden.
My wife is on her knees
between rows of spinach and shell
beans, mudding in the cabbages.
Last night in bed she admitted
that she doesn’t have the heart
to thin out the carrots this year.
Neighbors passing by in their cars slow
down and wave. I’ve heard
they’re happy we’re busy again,
glad to see we’ve divided the bed
of blue flag and cut back
the mock orange and forsythia
into comfortable green mounds.
For me it was the way
the maples filled out on the first
warm day in late April, going
from a green fuzz to full leaf
overnight, waking me when I heard
their voices whispering in the open window.
The next morning I drove
to Cierich’s Greenhouse. A flock
of gulls tired of chasing a tractor
across a plowed field watched
as I picked out a flat of red and
white geraniums for the front border.
I saved three red ones
for the grave. I wish I could say
I had the courage to genuflect,
cross myself, and pray
the Miserere when I got there.
Or tell you that I brushed aside
the wands of red poppies,
kissed the stone, and combed
my fingers through the loam
for messages from my daughter, but
no, all I could do was dig
three holes, set in the red geraniums,
and firm the soil around them.