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,
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.