Saturday, March 2, 2013

"this little piece of earth"

Found via a link borrowed with extravagant ease from Susan T. Landry for the sheer wonder and beauty of the poem.  From James Lineberger.


 We don't talk about it but her garden
 began as a healing device
 and perhaps a form of meditation as well,
 for at the most basic level, she's much like her mother,
 a pill junkie herself, who has always
 had a love for plants, and passed that on to T., along
 with all the rest of it, the anxiety, the hunger,
 the embittered need to fight things out on her own,
 but this little piece of earth that T. has laid claim to was already
 a garden of sorts before she took hold of it
 and started digging big holes two and three feet deep into which
 she pours the potting soil to cushion her
 tiny-root darlings who have no need for such extravagant comforts,
 or the fertilizer, either, from Lowe's,
 which she mixes up by the bucket, some fancy green stuff
 that killed off
 half the annuals the first time she applied it because she
 poured it over the flowers and leaves, not
 the soil, shocking them to death with the sudden
 ferocity of their commingling,
 an act her mama would laugh at were she not so senile now
 so into her "dementia" as the doctors are prone
 to describe it, that she can no longer dial 911, let alone place
 a call to T., who has been forbidden to talk to her
 anyway by the younger sister, K., who got herself appointed POA
 and controls all of mama's funds, dribbling it out
 to T. in niggardly amounts while she spends outrageous sums
 (T. grumbles) on herself and her husband
 and their lazy married daughters,
 thoughts which trouble T. less and less, however, as she digs up
 and discards the Iris bulbs
 my mother sent down here from her New Jersey backyard
 before she died, hoping
 to leave something behind, she said, for she knew about
 the Alzheimer's already, knew she wouldn't
 outlive her second husband after all, and wanted, nay,
 prayed for, some corner where her soul might linger in peace,
 but they never bloomed, those Irises,
 God knows why, coming back stubbornly every year,
 only to leaf out, sans flowers,
 sans any overt reason for their being save this: save
 the spirt that dwelt within,
 that grew up on her own mother's hardscrabble farm
 where every flap and fragment of everything
 was saved, used, cooked, or disemboweled, and none of it
 abandoned ever, including the feathers,
 but now, in the name of beauty, of art, of that mysterious will
 to carry on, T. has shoveled
 up the miserable transplanted bulbs and tossed them in the wheelbarrow
 along with the red dirt and crabgrass, working even, get this,
 by flashlight, arms in the wet hole
 up to her elbows as she digs anew,
 unanointed shepherd to her Zinnias and Petunias and Persian Shields,
 but as close to God as the dust, the wind, the broken wings
 of his cherubim.
James Lineberger


Lisa H said...

Look! Poetry is doing it AGAIN: telling us the story in a way that makes even the most raw and visceral slide down like chocolate covered marzipan. It takes a minute, but we emerge shaking our heads and saying things like:
"...what?!!!...what did he say?, and where AM I?!?..."
The best kind of LOST. Thank you for delivering yet ANOTHER jewel.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - Poetry ALWAYS does it. "...the broken wings..." Since we are mostly lost anyway, how excellent that we have a BEST kind of lost from which to choose. xo

susan t. landry said...

so ridiculously pleased to have people discover James; he is a secret wonder. please visit his blog and leave an offering in the form of a comment --just that you were there. poets need nurturing and a bit of light shined on them every now and then... like seedlings.

(and bless you, marylinn...with your liittle green shoots poking up through the compost...)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - I thought I'd left a comment the other day, probably missed the verification process, which I tend to forget. Went back. Am grateful to know and find poets on whom to shine a bit of light which you/they so deserve. xo