Poem- Why I Became a Gardener

Why I Became a Gardener

In the beginning
it was really just an escape.
I didn’t want to be in an office.
I didn’t know what I wanted, except beauty.
So I learned the names of plants,
and how they grew, and how they fed themselves.

It was while working in the gardens of others
that I recognized I had a vision
that I wanted to see made. That I wanted to be
in a certain kind of place. Something
that made my blood sing.
And this was not it.

First, I looked for clients
that had the kinds of gardens I wanted to work in,
where the desires of a plant
could surge against the needs of a human with its own joy,
and one might need to exert
some kind of force
to create a sense of balance. I wanted to be
invited, as an animal, into the space which I was in.
But that was hard to find. It wasn’t
a common way.

I began
to build gardens, some time later, for a person
likes to express himself
and make money. I learned how to find
the veins of stone, the passage of weight,
how to help a plant
take care of itself. I learned to receive a simple pleasure
in the usage of glue,
and the mechanics of water
because those were the demands of success.

Until one day I found myself
kneeling in the dirt, working away like a grub or a bird
beneath the nodding tassles of a grass I had planted
some years before.
I had dug a hole
to fix a broken pipe.
I smelled Sweet Elysium blanketing my face, as I pulled weeds
that rattled in hands. My fingers were cold. It was winter.
Overcome with a simple joy, I stopped and listened
to the sounds of birds
skittering above me
in a tree I had planted. What a pleasant place to be.
It was then I understood
we have to make
those things
we want to tend to.