Thursday, August 23, 2012



If you water the plant
and put it in the sun,
it will live, unless
it dies. Because

why. Because it does,
because biology
is not allegorical
until we speak

of it. In high school
Bio, we’d lower
our faces to

one eye pressed into
the lens, its eye
socket. Xylem,
we were supposed

to say, or phloem.
Xylem is dead,
our teacher said,
so the plant drinks

with parts that are
dead. I’m no good
in the garden. My
one tomato plant

produced only one
flower. One tomato
grew from it, like
a balloon with its

mouth wrapped
round a running
tap, but when I
went to pick it,

no tomato. Squirrels,
everyone said, and I
pictured one squirrel
holding the tomato

in its tiny arms,
another peering out
from a pine, holding
the needles open

like a curtain, and
waving to his friend,
hurry, hurry. It is
ridiculous, all of it,

the squirrels and hoses
and watering cans,
and Miracle-Gro
and biology, the logy

of life. Don’t die, we
command our plants,
and they laugh and
laugh at us after they do.


  1. I feel this way about many undertakings. The "it'll work if it works." The enemy conspiracy to make failure. The perhaps wasted time.

  2. It's like the Buddhists say, everything in material form is either eating or being eaten at any time - thus we must stay non-attached (this said after wrapping tomato plants to screen to keep out caterpillars and seeing pictures of chickens eating flowers placed next to graves in Texas)

  3. There is light-heartedness and yet depth in this poem. I love the image of the squirrel peering out from the curtain of pine needles.

  4. Plants growing is magic to me...always...I love the squirrel holding your one tomato, and I remember one eye on the microscope socket so clearly. Loved your poem, every line!

  5. I can't believe I used to use that stuff.

  6. I do love the helpful squirrels!


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