Imagining Writing a Poem For Olja
& not just because she likes rhubarb
I put foot to shovel
& started this poem:
"I'll spare you all
---then will come lines
on having stooped to yank
up, strip out, gently clear
a year's dead from two
worse than fallow---step one
on the way to this killing.
These big orange roots are damned
hearty, deep. I shake off earth before
tossing chopped carcass hunks into debris.
Next comes a (prosaic, Latinate) nod
to context: post-excavation
preservation, the year's plan
until I can see what's what
in these up-cropping mysteries I'm left with,
leftover, left under the overgrowth.
This to say I've been careful, caring:
much caritas; little courage.
I cross wrists on the handle and lean,
like some ancestor, and look: that's
two of the four now. Thirsty.
Last I'll write, hitting hard, sharp
monosyllables of need---urge,
drive, spur---flat-out compulsion,
given what's given---to destroy.
Replace the planting of another
with my own. My tomatoes. My
first. This is the thing I imagine
I'll barely need reference
for you. Subtle here! But what
images, outside this clumpy garden
of metaphor tangled in metaphor?
Time to fetch a tiller. I could
leave the last plant. Fact, I
shall. I do. The poem won't
be as good, but later you'll
make me that trade for a pie,
and now I can stop digging and
drink down one very tall water.