IN THE LATE SUMMER GARDENGreen beans lose their adolescent slenderness,
broaden in plump pods. One pumpkin swells,
fills a corner with its orange lamp.
At night skunks slink in to dig for grubs;
in the morning we see their small excavations.
My friend's cancer has grown, spread to her femur
and liver. Everything that can be pruned has now been taken.
Tomatoes spark starry yellow blossoms, hope against hope.
Some will turn into hard green marbles, but the sun
has moved past equinox; days shorten and cool.
My son is learning his multiplication tables;
he flips flash cards at the maple table.
Numbers multiply like random cells. I am learning
the simpler but harder facts of subtraction.
After first frost has done its damage, I will rip out
the tangled vines, blackened marigolds, basil, cosmos
until nothing remains of the once green jungle.
I will turn over the soil, smell dark earth rise
like a river, work in compost and humus, believing
in the resurrection. Every year I feel my tap root sink in
deeper. My friend is learning how to let go,
to stop making plans.
Today she sits in the sun with a cup of coffee,
black and rich, stirs in sugar and cream.
There is no point in denying the body's hunger.
She spreads thick butter and honey on toast.
She would like time to stop now, the sky, blue as radium,
the hills, bolts of calico, red & yellow, gold & green.