Poets Corner: Landscaper in Planting Season

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.