David Wright The 2River View, 7.1 (Fall 2002)

Tending Gardens


He died and left a lovely world of sculpted,
bricked off beds in the backyard, leaky sprinkler
pipes snaking from the house to the boundary

bushes. Peonies, herbs, purple coneflower,
columbine, and mint, mint everywhere.
In the fall I trimmed the lilacs by the drive,

pruned them back to bare, gray branch,
as my mother watched. She didn’t know.
I'd never learned. He never said: don’t trim

them late or come the spring no purple thing
will scent the wet world. Next year, though,
we wait, without any oracle, and they blossom.


Weekends my wife waters. She weeds.
She comes into the house filthy and free
of burdens. She laughs and sighs and arranges

her tools and says nothing. I suspect her
ornamental grasses hide knowledge,
something wild as pleasure.

When I rake through them in the morning,
I find no small, red fruit pulsing in the soil.
Nothing there to elude my unskilled hands.

I could dig here all day, jealousy dripping
from me like sweat. I could. But fall will come
and silver these tall grasses. We'll see then what lives.

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