Today's poem is by Thomas Reiter

See! I Will Not Forget You.
I Have Carved You on the
Palm of My Hand.

(Isaiah 49:15)

See! I will not forget you.
On the palm of my hand, July
sunlight. Where are my gardening
gloves? I took yours
down from where you hung them in May,
but couldn't work my way into them,
no matter how my fingers flexed
like fish against the current. I go
bare-handed against the weeds, keeping up
disappearances because how else
will the sun be able to pull its weight
in tomatoes in this our
last garden and my first?

See! I will not forget you.
I am moving down the row easily
lifting whorled carpetweed free;
letting thumb and forefinger be enough
for lightly rooted mallows, their fruits
like wheels of cheese; unseating
the nitrogen thieves you called
fat hens, that look today
as if spring's heaped cumulus
has sown itself. And here's a plantain,
root like a vortex taking my hand,
but I work myself back to the surface.
See! The ground you prepared for us
holds on. It fills my hand, this humus,
folds and parcels of garden
and none of it pouring away.
I see you adding compost and bone meal,
setting out mantis eggs against aphids.
I have carved you on the palm of my hand.

See! I will not forget you.
This garden that goes forward as I
follow, weeding, goes back
to the pellets you spilled out
on the kitchen table last March,
coins of the realm, poker chips
of peat fiber that expanded in water
into pots, each one receiving
a seed you pushed down with
your forefinger, an exclamation point.
They waited on the sun porch until
you came for them, no transplant shock. Now
they can't be told from the soil itself,
but can be said to remember you.

Copyright © 2004 Thomas Reiter All rights reserved
from The Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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