We made ready the land.
I sawed the boards and boxed the beds,
filled them with hope and alluvial soil asleep
in moccasin dreams of ancestral Cherokee children.
After consulting the Old Farmers Almanac she declared,
we will sow by the moon in this ancient mountain rainforest,
an organic garden—beans, squash and zucchini.
Let’s try different things, how about heirloom tomatoes?
We soon learned why hardly anyone grows heirloom tomatoes.
But the others exploded, succulent, sun warmed, bursting orbs,
a crimson rebirth of Time’s oldest fire mirrored in tender flesh.
Joy each morning returning, the rich discovery of ripe fruit,
dewy, reddening quicker than we could pick em.’
They rolled around the rustic table by the fireplace,
a succession of plump sirens consuming the kitchen counter.
When Jeremiah the young, confident, country plumber came,
we chatted against the wood railing above the stone wall,
saturated in bird song, pleasant talk, and new mown grass.
Morning sunbeams, silvery messengers, made lace of walnut leaves.
Judging our garden with admiration, he drawled,
“em are some good lookin’ maters.”
Then he moseyed to his truck, returned, cradling his Mossberg,
shouldered it and shot a snake in the pond. “Ahh don’t like snakes,”
drifted from his lips like cirrus smoke from the barrel of his gun.
But the corn, oh! We laughed when the corn by the 4th of July
was still only ankle high, and later by first frost,
shyly concealed kernels small as deer teeth.
Near sundown it rained on that Friday the 4th.
After Mexican dinner in our small mountain town,
we gathered with families at the ball field by the river.
Twilight the rain cleared, darkness, the expectant murmurs.
Down on the pitchers mound volunteer firemen huddled,
a flash, a rocket whistled over our heads.
We were so close in the thunder and light.
Fiery rainbows of stars showered all around us.
It’s a wonder the ole boys didn’t set house and hair afire!
These pictures all came to me in flashes, in Florida today,
on the 4th of July, emptying the art trailer on other heart land.
Knocked my head standing up, when I found in a box unopened till
this seventh summer, a Valentine note, composed the year of the garden.
Seven lines handwritten in juicy red, succulent like the flesh
of the tomatoes reaped that summer, on the slope by the pond,
seven miles outside of that little town in the mountains.
Seven lines distilled, dispelled time inside that sauna-like hull.
Suddenly the taste of those luscious tomatoes in my mouth.
Wet, dripping pure sunshine, spring water, slipping across
the oceans and mountains of time and undreamt dreams.
In the time of the garden on Independence Day
under an eternal, blue-smoked, mountain sky,
I believed in the destiny of stars.