Fertile Earth


I.
In the corner of the garden
we found the perfect spot
for the damask rose “Celsiana,”
but when we dug, we hit a boulder.
I said, “Let’s plant somewhere else.”
“No,” she disagreed, “we’ll find a way.”

For two hours we dug around it,
but couldn’t get it to budge.
With a plank, we made a lever.
The two of us stood on one end
and bounced up and down
and finally felt it dislodge.

It took two planks and the two of us
working all day to dig it out:
there, at last, unearthed,
a rock the size of a coffee table.
Two women, one aging and one old–
we gaped in awe of what we’d done.

II.
With patience, forbearance, and a stubborn will,
almost any obstacle can be made to yield.

She taught me to trust myself to find a way;
she taught me to look for it close at hand.

In the rock’s place grows the sturdy rose,
whose soft pink blooms and golden stamens
delight our summers.

The rock remained, too big to take away;
transplanted ferns now shelter in its shade.

III.
All afternoon before t.he rain,
I clipped the dead hostas’ withered stems
and raked out piles of dead leaves from the beds.

Wet and chill, as if a cloud had sunk to earth,
in the strangely muffled air of November,
I listened to the chirp of a hawk circling overhead.

My body bent to my labors; my mind wandered free.
Make room! More room!

By Anne Whitehouse

flower garden with a rock


Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower, her second from Dos Madres Press (2016). Her novel Fall Love has just been published in Spanish translation as Amigos y Amantes. 2016 honors include Songs of Eretz’s, RhymeOn!’s, Common Good Books’, and Fitzgerald Museum’s poetry prizes. Visit her at AnneWhitehouse.com.

Photo of garden and boulder by uulgaa.

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