She’s neglected her garden:
The flower beds are blanketed with layer upon layer
of dead leaves and ground rot.
Wild onions, that scourge of the suburbs,
grow in places once reserved for grass.
Rocks embedded in the soil
make it unsuitable for living things, except slugs.
If this garden was a book,
it would be titled, "Failure to Thrive."
But once upon a time,
She was full of piss and vinegar,
Attacking the crabgrass with impunity,
rooting out all evil
in the form of burdock and thorny stalks
No dandelion puff was safe from her wrath.
Then arthritis took hold,
burrowing into her joints like bulbs
embedded in her gnarled, purplish hands.
She no longer took pleasure in her garden,
Memories of sun-drenched leaves, perfect blooms,
and dew-dipped stems were replaced,
by pain and morning stiffness.
It would be early afternoon
until she could even make it downstairs,
to look out upon the sanctuary she once loved.
I’ve inherited her garden,
With its never-ending weeds,
leaves and pests.
It’s a work in progress but with no end in sight.
One day, though, it will come back
and, like the old woman, I will take much pride in it.
I will have sunflowers with heads bigger than my own,
pumpkin patches with big vines,
snaking their way down under the fence.
Blue bachelor’s buttons, pink phlox, yellow daffodils,
all shouting their names.
I will usher friends and loved ones into the backyard
Before they’ve had their tea.
But I know that one day, too,
something will prevent me from going out back,
and my garden with wither once again,
until some ambitious person with a rake and a dowel
will remark to her friends, "She’s neglected her garden."
© 2008 by Martta Rose Kelly.
Used here with permission.