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The Gardener
by Alison Deming

Sugar Ray, my pugilistic snap-pea,
Dr. Lamborn's finest variety,
nearly strangles itself with abundance
like the fairy tale pot spewing
porridge until the village is paved,
doors glued shut with obsessional lava,
and the master must come from the cave
to restore the safely fallow time.
And what in July could stop

Egyptian onions from growing fists
at the tips of their tubular stalks,
those purple bulbs growing ever finer
straws of knuckled green until abundance
is too much for the plant which leans,
relieved to give up and incubate
in the leveling rot of winter
through which honeybees will survive
on the meal they now gather

from the upturned yellow lampshades
of zucchini flowers, tea-colored nasturtiums
with mahogany pin-stripes that hurdle
to thicken their wall of blossoms,
declaring a peppery sweetness to the gardener
who paces the deeply mulched rows,
making a stand for the good work
of staying alive, the good rain
beading in basins where leaf and stalk join.



Alison Hawthorne Deming is the author of The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence (Louisiana State University Press), Science and Other Poems, Temporary Homelands: Essays on Nature, Spirit and Place, and is the editor of Poetry of the American West. She is director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center. This poem is selected from Science and Other Poems (Louisiana State University Press), which received the 1993 Walt Whitman Award of The Academy of American Poets. Alison is a regular participant in The Orion Society's Forgotten Language Tour.

If you'd like to order her books (and others), please visit The Orion Society Bookstore.

This poem was originally published in the Spring 1994 issue of Orion. To order a copy of this issue, please visit The Orion Society Marketplace, call (413) 528-4422, write The Orion Society, 195 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230, or e-mail us at orion@orionsociety.org.



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