“The Garden Sure Got Bigger over the Winter”

That’s what my neighbor a mile down the road
where I walk our dog always says the first time
I see him out in the early April air. He stands there,
bent into the wind, his smile wry, eyes agate blue clear.

“Mine too,” I always say though all I grow are patches
of flowers carved out on the islands that catch some
sun through the drape of maple, beech, and basswood.
He works his acre: flat, slight roll to the east, lives
at an angle, seems to look out the corner of his eye
at the rain or light sliding in over his earth. Today

we hear about the internet, video games, Googlings,
multi-taskings, everyone from the point guard to
the neurosurgeon saying “I need to focus,” everyone
trying to be a camera lodged inside a cell phone. But
could we ever focus; I mean concentrate? Always
the dishes, Aunt Helen’s arthritis, whether to call
the kids or let them go, to have the oil changed, find
the misplaced book, decide what to do with the holidays,
our lives, the summer, this week, today, next hour.

Every time I stopped to say hello, he, in his fixed stoop,
was staring into each plant, pulling each weed, tending
each young sprout, picking whatever had ripened
into what his wife and he would can. Today when
my dog and I arrived at his garden’s near end, I saw
only a gnarl of weeds where the corn always rose into

July, where the squash, beans on their rickety poles,
soft loam covering the potatoes seemed to strain away
any imposition of the day. I looked long down the way
of the ground to a square, maybe ten feet by ten at the far
end of the acre where there the dirt had been turned, a place
where something will rise again late in summer, early fall.