Tending the Garden

Like blackbirds we bobbed
half in, half out
of each otherís sight
                as we sifted and scraped.

Not gardening so much as
what already lives here, sown
by chance, design, neglect.

Crocus cups on tubular stems.
Daffodils peeping
out of papery hoods.
Cow parsley, ivy, nettles, mint.

A silver birch,
sliced and stacked
under flaking tarpaulin,
logs still looped with rope.

The skeleton of a bird, heaped
like a toy model,
which I buried
then re-buried deeper.

Youíre still pottering in a bed,
trying to decide whatís weed
and whatís not, gardenerís gloves
long since abandoned.

I watch you pulling free
                a knot of roots,
shaking off clumps of soil,
shielding your eyes as it scatters.

Shards of crockery and glass.
A rickety fence
overcome with brambles.
Rusty wire. Worms. 

You tell me worms are good
for the soil,
theyíll recycle dead matter,
                help vegetables grow. 

Resigned to the dirt
                you crouch, picking out
small, thread-like bundles.
Like plants hanging on

to the shape of their pots
we wait to be
broken loose,
for a spot to hunker down.

You stand and stretch,
flushed and tousled.
We could let this corner
grow a little bit wild, you say.

Jonathan Totman

If you have any comments on this poem, Jonathan Totman would be pleased to hear from you.