The Wild Ones

Garden  This is a poem I wrote way back in 1990, at a time when I had a huge garden and a beautiful house on the side of a hill, with a view to the eastern mountains. We (my husband & I) were really into gardening then, having just discovered the joys of digging, planting, pruning and picking. And pickling, preserving and cooking with fruits of our labour. We were not so keen on the seemingly endless task of weeding! I have made a few minor changes in this version, reflecting some of the lessons I’ve learned over the nearly 30 years since the first draft of this poem.

 The Wild Ones

The dark soil crumbled beneath her fingers;

she smelt rain in the air and on the grass

as she knelt and patiently pulled the weeds,

feeling their green wildness with her fingertips,

their long white snaking roots

like blind worms

crawling through underground tunnels

to take advantage

of the good soil she had nurtured

carefully, turned and fertilised

for her tame and productive plants.

These were wild things, an urgent life force

that cared nothing for her ordered beds,

for the tameness of being caged in rows, waiting

to be fed and watered and picked.

“Oh, Adam was a gardener,

and God, who made him, sees

that half of every gardener’s work

is done upon his knees,” she carolled,

trowelling round her plants with care,

hoeing and raking and watering,

spreading the mulch, but still

the wild ones came:

caring nothing for her orderly beds,

her pampered plants,

they ran

helter-skelter across the garden,

laughing and blowing raspberries,

thumbing their noses at her,

slipping and dodging

between the rows of upright citizens

that marched rank and file

beside the stakes and twine.

© S. Cartledge 1990; 2017.