May 16, 2010

a little bit of earth


I woke up dreaming my mother's garden—
fields in autumn, green turning gold,
grasses scythed down in the late, dark sun;
and here will be corn, she was saying, tomatoes,
flowers I never knew she loved.

I woke to a child climbing into my bed
—four-year-old girl of my sister's son—
hair like silk and the color of wheat
falling into her eyes, begging me to get up.

And in my mother's kitchen the strong light smelled of coffee
and autumn, in fact. In fact, my mother,
who hasn't gardened in twenty years, was taking a bath.
I heard her splashing through the walls. It was October;
the child came forward, one fresh egg cupped in her palm.

I woke up dreaming the harrowed fields,
sharp with stubble, my mother's lands.
She was already preparing for spring; she was already
stepping naked from the bath, away from grief—

a widow with work to do, weeds in the yard,
and the child calling softly to me, come on, come on, come on.

--waking elsewhere, cecelia woloch

Today I visited my new community garden plot. I've been on the waiting list for a year, which I don't feel so bad about because it turns out there are 1400 people on the waiting list.


The plot is a couple miles from here, nestled in an area of southeast Portland that's impossible a challenge to navigate because the streets start and stop randomly. You'll be driving down 57th and suddenly it dead-ends at a house and picks up again six blocks later. I lived in this neighborhood when I first moved to Portland and there were truly nights in the first few weeks where I would drive for two hours just trying to get back to the house.

I got lucky, because not only did I get a garden plot, I got a SHINY NEW garden plot. The garden is expanding this year and there's a new section with 23 new raised beds.


The plot is 20' x 20', which I just want to point out is bigger than the studio apartment I lived in during graduate school. (For real: the studio was 15' x 15'). I am SO EXCITED! I had a balcony garden for two years in my last apartment, and I got such joy from it. I already have a list of things to cultivate: tomatoes, peas, salad greens, cucumbers, kale, basil, chives, tomatillos, garlic, green onions. Sunflowers. Sweet peas.

It rained this morning, so I mistakenly thought it was a lousy day outside and therefore didn't step foot out the front door until 4 PM. In fact, it was the perfect temperature; a sweet, late-spring warmth. The opera season is over, and summer is coming. The sky glows faintly with the last of the day's light until well after 9 PM. My favorite time of year, while the days are still extending and extending; the flowers are still blooming, and summer is still a hopeful promise, a sweet singular taste.

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