INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEDDING THE GARDEN DOWN FOR WINTER
When you realize you have begun
To neglect the garden, go down
To the garden youíve neglected.
Bring a bowl for the bloated peas,
The woody carrots, the radishes
Split at the root. Twist the last
Shriveled tomatoes off the vines,
Then tear the vines off the trellises,
Then yank the trellises out, but donít
Look up. Pick whatever green
Herbs remain and stuff
Your pockets full. Run the tools
That in your exhaustion you left
To rust up to the shed and fill
A five-gallon pail with motor oil.
Let them soak like teenage athletes,
But carry the hoe back down
To the garden. Donít bother
Avoiding stepping on the beds.
Youíll make them again
Come spring. But donít
Look up. Ball the white string
The sugar snaps climbed up
Up and toss it into the trees
For the birds to use in their nests.
Whatever anger you harbor
Against the president, take it
Out hoeing, then take your revenge
By sowing winter wheat
Liberally, suppressing all impulse
Towards reason. Find the rain
Gauge you stabbed into
The vampiric ground, then,
No matter how discolored the water,
Drink your measure, but close
Your eyes as you tip your head back.
Now. Only now you may look up
At the scarecrow. The burlap bag
Of his head. The tangled twine
Of his hair. The blue buttons you sewed
Onto round whites of cloth.
The two-dimensional, upside-down
Triangle of his nose. The thick red yarn
Of his lecherous mouth.
Remember how you considered
Whether to make him
Joyful or sorrowful and settled
On some state in between. Now,
With the scissors you found
In a kitchen drawer for this purpose,
You may proceed to snip
The zip ties that kept his straw hat
From blowing off his head.
Unbutton his flannel shirt.
Bare his garbage bag chest.
Undo his belt, cinched as tight
As it would go. Pull down his pants,
Exposing the pale PVC pipes
Of his legs, slipped over posts
You grunted to pound
Into wet ground, in April rain.
Pull off his boots. Now
Embrace him, hugging his body
In half, pulling the garbage bag
Of straw out of the pail
Of his torso. Tear his chest apart
As if searching for his heart, as if
He has one, then scatter
His body over the beds.
Put his shirt and jeans and hat
And boots in the pail and carry
The pail up to the house.
Wash the scarecrowís clothes
And hang them in the closet.
Sit down and begin the poem.
glean: 1. to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit. 2. to gather (grain or the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers. 3. to learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly. 4. to gather what is left by reapers.
December 20, 2018