April 22nd poem

Saturday, April 22, 2017

 Afternoon in the Garden 

"Oh!" I tell Elias, who is four.  "The rhizomes want to be near the surface of the soil."  I've been reading up on thinning irises while he plays with the hose.  "See the thick brown root here?  Come look!  They're all connected with this.  It's supposed to be showing like that ..." I make him come to me.  We both look.

I've come out to plant the grassy things with purple flowers I bought at the pottery festival.  I've gotten a hand spade from the shed, and I go to the front to hack at at the flower bed by the porch, loosening the roots of encroaching vines, upending old bits of rubber and plastic.  Perhaps it's called a trowel, the thing I'm holding.  Nothing in the shed is mine.  Not really.  I find something that I think at first is a squashed golden ring, but it's just a gold packaging tie.  I'm a bit scared of it all.  The digging.  The finding.

I leave Elias to do some of the loosening of roots while I run to the back to retrieve something.  When I return to the front, he says, "Don't look," and I see that he's uncovered a pink worm and is afraid it's injured.  I reassure him, move the worm aside.  I pull out two hearty dandelion plants, continue trying to find space among the rocks and roots.  "This is what's nice about gardening," I'm thinking.  "You can be a little crazy, attacking certain things, nurturing others, red in the face, throwing yourself into a plan all your own."  Elias is backing away, holding his face carefully.  He is having a much different feeling.  "I feel bad for everything that grows," he says.

I get the grasses planted.  I stand to inspect things.  "All we have to do is cut the grass, maybe trim those bushes.  Later, we'll transplant some irises.  Oh, I need new begonias for my big pots.  I could have saved the begonias from last year in a bag in the shed, but I realized it too late."

"I'll remind you," he says.

Surveying the pollen-covered porch, I turn to Elias.

"You know what I need?" I say.

"A disguise?"

At bedtime, I'm telling my son's father about the irises.  I've let Elias replant the weeds in the back.  I've washed us off and cooled us down, fed us dinner.

"They're all connected with that big root," I'm saying.  "What's it called?  Rhizome, right?'

"That's what I call it," Elias says.

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