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October 20, 2014
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I Am Not a Gardener

Photo by Amanda Reed

By Norma Ketzis Bernstock

I am not a gardener but every spring when I lived in suburbia
I purchased flats of pansies, marigolds and impatiens.
Impatiens thrived through the entire season,
had little luck with pansies, but I loved
how they twisted and turned toward the sun.
I was good about picking off dead blooms,
enjoyed the gold and orange marigolds long into fall.

I tried to grow vegetables, fenced them in from rabbits,
felt like a genuine farmer as I fertilized
and watered my minuscule crops.
But the carrots grew knobby like arthritic fingers
because of the underground rocks and stones.
I loved gathering long-leaf lettuce each night for salad
but the tomatoes didn’t ripen till August when
we were in Maine so neighbors enjoyed the bounty.

These days I live in the woods where deer eat everything.
Ornamental grasses and day lilies endure.
I protect my weeping cherry and Japanese maple,
chase the hungry deer as best I can.
On a perfect summer morning I delight in donning knee pads,
grabbing gloves and trowel, digging in dirt,
pulling and cutting out brittle stems,
the bees above, zipping in and out among
the honeysuckle heavy with fresh golden blossoms.