For one summer,
I did not hover over it
like a young mother clucking.
Those careful rows I stretched in March
(using white string pulled against straight sticks)
have grown as wild and destructive
as children left alone.
Without discipline, okra grows proud,
tall and hard. Tomatoes lose their confidence and
deflate like an unloved bride.
The peppers endure neglect, firstborn children
determined to do good,
yielding their souls to worms and black mold.
The corn has been walked over by the deer,
picked over by the ravens,
flattened by the large brown buttocks
of wild ground things.
The enemies have come,
and I have done nothing to discourage them.
I have grown a cacophony,
stiff, stubborn stalks of wild weeds,
weeds soft en masse,
weeds winding through good things,
strangling. Weeds upon weeds
They grew while I was busy.
If I told you how I was busy,
I would select my examples carefully.
What I chose to say would be half the truth
That is how the justification of works works.
Lord, I would like to have seen Gethsemane
before the busloads of white Baptist tourists
clicked and shuffled through it
gathering nostalgia and confidence.
I would like to have seen it anonymous and
unkept, wild like sin run rampant
and Christ the Son of God kneeling there
with every square reason to live,
choosing to die.
There is a tree
at the corner of our yard.
It bleeds crimson this time of year.
I walked to it today,
because I wanted to look up into it.
I walked past the tall garden weeds
with the seed pods that burst into silk,
like white-haired mountain women
standing in the rain.
I walked past the fence
where we intended to raise chickens;
past the shade beds
where we tried to grow ferns;
past the high brick walls
where I meant to grow a family;
past ten-years-worth of distractions and foresakings.
At last I came to the edge of a tousled wood,
where wide, yellow leaves fluttered
like pages of a hymnal.