Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Yard Work" by Mary Soon Lee

Yard Work
Mary Soon Lee

"Rose" Ink & Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
At the garden center
you wilted early,
the morning hot and damp,
your legs worn out by running.
So busy, always busy,
touching anything, everything --
plastic watering cans, cardboard boxes,
tubs, wheelbarrows, trowels, rakes.
You wandered past rosebushes,
smelling carefully,
chose one with wide pink blooms,
faintly scented.
Back home,
after I had watered you and cooled you down,
you lifted bricks into our wheelbarrow,
helped me push each load to the dried-out pond.
Together we positioned bricks
on the concrete bottom,
poured bags of earth, one by one,
over the patchwork of brick.
So long a project
for a person of such busyness,
so many games you could have played instead.

Your small fingers
dug the hole for the rosebush,
helped me press it into the earth,
both of us tired, dirty, bent down,
the pink roses wobbling overhead.

Poet's Notes: This poem is about a day I spent on a gardening project with my daughter Lucy, back when she was four years old. There used to be a small, dried-out pond-basin in our backyard, and together Lucy and I converted it to a flowerbed. It was a lengthy project by the standards of a four-year-old, and this poem started out lengthy as well. I've revisited the poem since I first wrote it, whittling it down in stages. Poems do not always turn out well the first time around, or even the second time--at least, my poems don't!

Editor’s Note:  Mary has captured a precious moment here.  I especially like the way she treats her daughter as a plant in the 3rd stanza by having her "watered."

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