Landscaper in Planting Season
This month’s flower girl stops traffic
in the garden center parking lot
in tight Carhartts and Felco holsters,
wiping a smear of soil from her cheek
with clay-encrusted fingers. Where’s she been
all winter? On some exotic playa
down under, collecting seaglass, or here
all along, holed up in a rental off Oak Lane
with only a wood stove and cable
for company, plotting meticulous
scenarios of perennial displays.
She’s been cleaning out beds since March first,
shoveling snow off the crocuses, ripping
root balls apart, pruning the Buddleia back
to nothing. Gets by on a diet of Advil,
sardines and Doxycycline; spouts Latin
like a native — fluent in Hemerocallis and Hosta
but her heart belongs to Dahlias:
her dreams tossed by Loverboy, Marry Me,
Hot Tamale, and everybody’s favorite
eleven inch red orange, Bodacious.
She’ll be hard to pin down for the duration,
always rushing off to some job,
cradling a cup of tea and a hose kit,
trailing a cloud of Liquid Fence and cocoa
mulch, but eventually things’ll settle down
to just dead-heading and watering,
and those ungainly tubers from the basement
will turn incandescent by mid-July.
Then she’ll have time to lean against the warm body
of a truck and waste an hour in the sun.
Donald Nitchie lives in Chilmark and edits the Banjo Newsletter, but he is fond of all stringed instruments and their practitioners. His poetry chapbook “Driving Lessons” was published in 2008 from Pudding House.