|Jul/Aug 2004 • Poetry • Special Feature|
Our mailman is a friendly chap,
he calls me by my first name
although our address is only five months old.
Just this weekend we were kayaking on Lake Belton,
and there was our mailman, in a motorboat,
with a fishing rod. He asked
us for directions to Rogers Point.
I couldn't believe it. What do we know?
But such little time yields other knowledge.
Five months is sufficient for a first garden.
By early February I had planted perennials,
rosemary, Echinacea, oregano (the Greek kind)
and in April we were tossing salads—
escarole, rustic arugula, French curly endive—
and harvesting 57 pounds of red potatoes.
Now the nasturtiums are blooming,
the cilantro has bolted, and feral cats,
sleeping in my zinnia beds,
scatter when I come outside, leaving
warm hollows between the flowers
and a pissy smell in the dirt. I've started
wearing gloves, even though I prefer
to feel ground between my fingers, learning
the texture of this soil, Blackland Prairie and limestone
here on the edge of the Edwards Plateau.
These hands have traveled well, from black gumbo
of Southeast Texas to glacier-eroded sand of Minnesota,
to red clay of Georgia and alluvial deposits of Louisiana.
In all of these I've planted, well, more than seeds,
and this city lot reveals already its present charms
and distant past. Each shovel of dirt turns up fossils
from ancient seas: devil's toenails, calcareous sea biscuits,
and coral tumbled by waves that receded
too long ago for memory but left behind,
like the imprints no eraser completely removes,
ghostly casts of their original life.