a blog about the asparagus. Here's what came out- my first poem in ten years.
Nothing but slick leaf litter on the gravel road
we drove the pickup cautiously down, 5 gallon
buckets of corms nestled among shovels and garden forks.
Tools loosened this black dirt packed tight inside 1x12 boards
that used to be a garden bed, wood rotten
enough to crumble in our hands. The soil held
fast to itself, a tight rectangle formed from years of threadlike
roots weaving themselves crosshatched through compost.
We scent this like animals, our work‘s done on hands
and knees or stretched flat, bellies against the cool damp.
These corms are tangled, intertwined, we work in past our wrists,
fingers pricked and torn by long forgotten ratwire stretched tight
under all the beds years ago in hope of thwarting
ground squirrels and voles tunneling under fencing to decimate
tender young beans and lettuce. I learned at first harvest the discordance
between ratwire and root vegetables, but never disturbed these asparagus,
the wire underneath them forgotten till they outgrew their restraints.
until this morning, when we become the tunnelers, burrowing
under sharp wire and around the twisted roots of trees
long gone, these roots that keep on even though
there’s no tree waiting for the nourishment they send back.
They don’t stop, nor do we, disentangling corms that
weave together so tightly they appear at first as one lone
giant entity, torn from the ghost of a bad horror movie,
alien in our hands.
Back home in town, our new home, soon to be the final
resting place for these asparagus, a bed made one last time.
I’d like to claim we dug the old bed out to save the corms, but
honestly I wanted some small piece of mountain here, just
a bit of height in this low lying yard, a lot that’s sited
so far down the city placed town culverts in our lawn. A beautiful
asparagus bed’s situated in the garden, two foot high sides, corms spaced
precisely so and dirt-covered just the way the chart inside their box specified.
But these aren’t city plants we’re bringing down the mountain, though they
may have started out inside restricted quarters they didn’t remain that way,
their escape from captivity began long before we happened by
to aid in their emancipation. They can’t go back into a bed, re-placed
in with tame plants, ordered rows inside a stricture now they’ve wilded,
we plant them accordingly, dig up stray patches- in the garden,
in the yard, a few plants by the kiwi, some where the tomatoes used to be,
another group around the corner nestled by black raspberry.
I’ll try not to remember where we put them,
like I try to forget home, hope that next spring I’ll have a yard
full of surprise, feast of House Mountain, rising.