HARVESTING THE CARROTS
Ten years later, when it was finally over,
she confessed she had fallen in love
with me that late autumn afternoon
while I squatted, my back to her,
harvesting the carrots.
My eyes were fixed on the carrot tops, ferny green
filigree promising thick scarlet roots
burrowed in the soil, so I failed to notice
if she changed that moment—her face,
her eyes, the way she walked—
When this thing she later called love swept
over her. I do remember that the corn
was behind us, and how she turned then
to photograph it as I tore out carrots
and tossed them in a willow basket.
I never understood what she saw in this garden
she hadn’t worked, or in the ravaged corn
she’d make into a photo to hang on a gallery
wall, or how these things she hardly knew
could stir such deep emotions, but
I’ve come to trust the way the bandit coon craves
the corn, something pure and simple, lacking
pretense. The photograph was one of those
soft-focus works of hers you could
hang any which way and still
See something to satisfy you, so long as you
were not hungry for corn. There was mullein,
goldenrod and bergamot still in bloom,
and the wild carrot, Queen Anne’s Lace,
which she claimed to love as well.
I teased her, called it a wanton weed, useless
renegade from overseas, but showed her,
as if it was a secret shared by just us two,
the solitary purple blossom shuddering
like a heart at the center of each bouquet.
Gather enough of these over a summer, I said,
and you can dye something—a skirt or shirt
perhaps—a dark hue like the stain
of memory, a thing of beauty and utility.
At least until the color fades.
—from Rattle #29, Summer 2008