The Gardener

Pollen-stained air / and sun-glare quicken

The Gardener
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

by Noelle Hisnanick-Murphy

Pollen-stained air
and sun-glare quicken
in her veins like sap
warmed by a west-
blown wind. In over-washed
housedress and rubber soles,
she stoops, stiff-kneed
on the mown grass.
This small plot—hid
many years ago to rot
beneath the children’s
sandbox—now her domain.
Her dirt-darkened fingers
strain against the scrawl
of soft-prickled dandelion
stems and wild onions.
Sweat slicks her coarse
gray curls like soap-shine
on steel wool, the high sun
heavy on her back.
She will not rest until
every weed, roots-gnarled, relents
to her firm grasp
as she prepares the dark,
warm dirt for seeds.
At the end of the day,
slow with bone-deep ache,
her spine will unfurl,
like a tendril of tomato
vine pointed skyward— 
she’ll stand and survey
this tended bit of earth
ready for new life.