Spring 2006

Volume 1, Issue 1



Black Walnuts in March


I have heard the black walnut trees
surrounding your yard will render the soil
infertile; that they, like your lips in winter,
will crack and bleed, will slowly leach
into the soil.

But you take no nevermind.

You dig your toes, heavy and ripe as seed-grapes,
into a poisoned ground, clenching clay slabs
and demand that this soil render life up to you,
sooner or later. You desire mastery
with the rocking of your supple plum body, plunging
through soft furrows.

It is only fair, you think, that this earth gives back
what it took.

You will dream the earth’s dream:
the shy, closed-mouth buds poised
as miniature artichokes; their hearts
recoiled like green tongues curled upon themselves,
mute and hidden, waiting.

But the black walnuts drop
their bristly bassinettes
faster than your steely trowel can travel,
and the earth aborts your efforts;
the finite hiccup which produces only silence.



What T.S. Eliot Taught Me about Gardening

That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?

I thought the two gardens
plotted side by side
resembled turned earth for graves,
the segmented joints of the
woody and herbaceous intricately
entwined like knotted hair
or abused sinew.

The stamens peppered the soil
with a ruddy dust and flowers were
fertilized in perpetual motion,
cycle upon worn cycle.
Leaves unfurled as tongues lolling against
a thinning air.

It disturbed me to tread the pebbled path
between the two, feeling as though
the remains of the dead vibrated in protest
with the footfalls. Roots thin as a line of spit
snapped and issued a scythe’s sigh.

The shed tilted away,
shouldering up to the sycamores.
It left the dead
to tend to its own, while the daffodils,
paling yellow to sallow white,
bent slivered necks in reverence.




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© 2006 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture