Barding in the Garden at the end of a pretty good season.
Stanzas seem a lot like raised beds to me, spaces where things can grow, cultivated, of their own vitality…
Garden Plots, by A. Norelli
from the last of the many
green peppers gone red
and I dream
and the secret tillings
of the worm…
Certain things need a
year. I will not talk
was a bust
but last night I dreamed
it growing well
no new tomatoes;
I planted clover beneath
eat sweet greens too!
This poem was intended to be a string of haiku, but in practice it turned into many distinct attempts to encompass the form. I only kept the kernels I liked, weeding out and composting the rest, which left me 15, then 13, and finally eight stanzas. In each of them—the product of my first all-out season of micro-farming—there was some sort of fruit even if there was crop failure. And of course there are surprises brought about by using Form: a friend of mine noticed that ‘melons, cauliflower’ next to each other sounded a lot like melancholy, which was a great poetic harvest considering they were both devastated by groundhogs and the low point of my year. But at least I had some consolation that the loss made way for some clever wordplay, right? Very much like the perfect red chilies that were growing in my compost bin without a hint of my help all year! Surprises! That’s what the garden brings, good and bad, big and small! Poetry too! With the seeds of haiku I made a second season out of the end of fall. Who says composting should be relegated solely to the field of gardening? I find the composted realities of gardening are a heady fertilizer for the poetry medium.
And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
by Alex Norelli—
Over the past year of garden work I’ve realized something about gardening, It’s a lot of work! Even without the groundhogs picnicking on my tomatoes, the weeds as ambitious as the rain’s abundance, and most recently a deer breaking an entire limb off a young peach tree—even without those setbacks (i.e. the reality of gardening)— gardening is a lot of work.
So much so that I’ve been enjoying too little of the successes: the plentiful cayennes, the building of a fern garden, and the successful conversion of weedy plots into perennials. Once I realized that I was Gardening Too Much(!), I purposely took time to sit down and just look at what was around me—and use the other senses that are usually put on hold in order to muster the strength to haul another load of compost, or dig a hole for a tree. I can do all that later, I told myself, and I am glad I did.
AH, IT IS FALL
I wish I could show you how the wind makes the oats move, silk quietly—then rattles high above an open ear, in the crinkly yellowish tone of rustling dryness.
I wish there were some way to encapsul the lime tips of sunny viridian, and the brush of gold pulsation warming my cheek between racing purses of rain.
I wish you knew water far off, traveling to you on an aquatic—undisturbed channel—arriving to you unscathed, over a meadow too damp to interfere.
And I wish I could show you: the numerable tongues at home in their mouths, this world, close, inaudible, yet warm as the core of you.
And I wish you could have been there, at the instant of recognition when the leaves, so golden, appeared to be clouds.
And the branches leading up to them, so slender and dark, appeared tethers of smothered embers: charcoal holding another season at bay.
by Alex Norelli—
I was originally going to go to the New York Botanical garden and see the well-publicized Japanese Maples, but fall hadn’t come around enough yet to ensure a harrowing variety of color. So I decided to head south to a curvy sliver of land between downtown skyscrapers and a view of the statue of liberty, the Battery Conservancy Gardens.
I heard from a friend that the large swaths of perennials (many native) were something to see…and to add to the old America feel there was even a wild turkey meandering around, the first time I’d see the species in Manhattan.
The little poem that follows resulted from my first experiences with this garden. I made sure to let whatever caught my eye hold onto it, and whatever caught my ear to flow into it longer than usual. The form is a Haibun, which is a section of prose followed by a haiku.
The Talking Garden
The grasses have one thing to say, the asters another, and the air does not speak, I do. And likewise, the wind is silent while amsonia is always about to or to just have spoken, as the sedum, speaking so softly—you can’t help hear the bee.
The anemones graft me to the bottom of the sea, among the humbler corals of blooming happenstance. Maidenhair: the smell of approaching the beach when low tide has left an aromatic path of surrenders,
and I do not blame the dry grass, or the gardener who planted it, or the cloud that swept over it without proffering its rain. Without leaf, reed, or tongue the wind is silent.
Sea oats flicker
and flounce, shivering
in fall’s first air.