October 27, 2013 in Features

American Life in Poetry

Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06
 

I open every spring with a garden more precisely laid out and cared for than the year before, and by the end of summer it’s collapsed into a tangle of weeds, bugs and disorder. Here’s Gabriel Welsch, a poet from Pennsylvania, carrying a similar experience right into winter.

A Garden’s End

Forsythia, scaled and bud-bangled,

I pruned to a thatch of leaves

for the curb, by the squirrel-gnawed

corn, silk strewn, kernels tooth carved

and husks shorn over the ground

pocked with paw prints.

The borers mashed the squash vine,

the drought tugged the roots of sage,

catmint languished by the sidewalk,

tools grew flowers of rust.

That winter we left our hope

beneath the snow, loved through the last

of the onions, watched the late leeks freeze

to crystal, bent like sedges, their shadows

on the snow. That winter we left

our hope beneath the snow.

Poem copyright 2012 by Gabriel Welsch from “The Death of Flying Things” (WordTech Editions), and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


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