Monday, June 8, 2009



Following Candide’s advice,
I cultivated my own garden
in rich black humus that was
as soft and as cool as the
earthworms that churned there.

I became a messiah
to the strawberry plants –
the expected deliverer of the fruit.
Day after day, I worried over them,
as if they had mortal souls to save.

They strayed from the righteous path and
climbed into the beans, tomatoes, and corn.
They were not interested in possibilities,
but wanted only to live for the here and now.

I absolved those murderous strawberry
plants that strangled the delicate snow
peas standing innocently in their way -
strangled them until their blossoms lay
white upon the ground like translucent
eyelids cut from tiny alien corpses.

Beyond tired, I would sit under
the tulip tree at night to rest.
I would try to forget the
strawberry plants for a while.
But always, looking toward
the garden, I felt restless -
as if I were about to be betrayed.


Karen said...

I love, love this! "Following Candide's advice"!!! That in itself is precious and full and a great contrast with becoming the "expected deliverer".

It's tough work saving the souls of those wandering plants that "strayed from the righteous path".

I'm just smiling and smiling as I read this one. What a delightful tongue-in-cheek metaphor, and what a perfect ending for it.

The whole thing just shows your skill, Kaye. Only someone who can really write can do this. It's so good.

Mairi said...

I've always loved the idea of the hortus conclusus, or enclosed garden as a symbol of the soul and your amusing take on the gardener in such a place is wonderful. The strawberry, as I'm sure you know, but maybe your readers don't, is designated as the fruit of the Virgin Mary and of blessed souls in heaven. A fine vision of paradise indeed, with all the righteous sitting on pillows eating strawberries and cream. They - the strawberries - are shown growing in the grass beneath the Virgin's feet in Renaissance paintings. Apparently they symbolise righteousness and perfection so I suppose we should be pleased that they're running rampant over the world. I suspect those delicate little snow peas were incorrigibly wicked and you, under your tulip tree, are not about to be betrayed but redeemed. Your cushion awaits in the next world.

Julie said...

Those dang strawberry plants! K, you make-a me laugh. But seriously, this poem is SO very awesome. I love it to pieces. Your humor is great. Your lines and form...excellent. I love the blossoms "white upon the ground like translucent/eyelids cut from tiny alien corpses."

I know I'm not supposed to say anything in poetry is perfect, but I think that ending is. Sheer perfection. I'm so glad you posted it. You are so good, dear K!

trooping with crows said...

I was so excited to see a new poem here tonight, Mom.
(did our conversations from the other day, inspire you to post this one? Our talk of "rosemary" and robin redbreast?)
Sorry to repeat other comments here, but I also love the metaphor. The fourth stanza is my all around favorite, but also liked
"as soft and as cool as the earthworms that churned there"
"Day after day, I worried over them as if they had mortal souls to save"
This is truly one of the best metaphors that I have ever read. It is brilliant beyond belief.

RachelW said...

Oh, haha!! They are just like my raspberries. It is a berry garden mutiny! ;) Whatever shall we do? I love the photo, and the poem, too.

Rick said...

Hello K Lawsen. Missed you while I've been gone!

I do believe Whitman himself would have loved this poem, and no higher compliment can be paid.

the walking man said...

The only good Strawberry is an eaten Strawberry!

Let's rest 'neath the tulip tree and share a fine bowl. That will teach them to stay in their place as they watch their brethren consumed.

Vesper said...

Kaye, I like this very, very much!

I feel the same towards my raspberries... :-) :-) :-)

They were not interested in possibilities,
but wanted only to live for the here and now.

their blossoms lay
white upon the ground like translucent
eyelids cut from tiny alien corpses.

This is a beautiful poem, with many layers of meanings, a feast for the mind and the senses...

Catvibe said...

Oh oh, I wonder what will happen with the ones I put in the front garden, already they send long long shoots in search of new ground to conquer. Your poem made me giggle, the end is so funny! But mostly because I can totally relate!

I absolved those murderous strawberry plants that strangled the delicate snow peas standing innocently in their way -
strangled them until their blossoms lay white upon the ground like translucent eyelids cut from tiny alien corpses.

Just wonderfully bizarre.

Catvibe said...

I was just out in the garden this morning after reading your poem, and I have to say I just kept giggling at the entire biblical story here. Especially when I was taking off tomato shoots. I grow them up on one vine only, so they get very tall and have fewer but massive fruits. I felt so BAD when I was pinching off the shoots! Then I giggled and thought of my Judas like action, thanks to you... Thought you'd enjoy knowing the lasting effects your poem has.

Aniket said...

Oh yes! This was such a delightful read. The one that doesn't make you laugh out loud but makes you grin throughout. It brought me a hearty smile. Thank you for this.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Karen - how sweet of you to pay me such a great compliment! Thank you so much. I thought you would like the Candide part... Let's see, we were 20 years old when we used to sit on the top of the mountain discussing Voltaire's works and the impetus for his writing Candide - we'll have to do that again and anon! Thanks.

Mairi - hahaha... I would be happy enough to be allowed a cushion on which to sit in the next world, but to be able to eat strawberries, as well, that may be pushing it a little! lol Thanks for the astute reflections and good comments.

Hey Julie - so glad you enjoyed my little parody. I appreciate your very kind and generous remarks! I really, really don't mind when you say a poem of mine is perfect...LOL! You are so much fun! I appreciate you immensely.

Hi, Merissa - Aw, thanks so much. Of course, I do get inspired by our many conversations and many a poem has resulted or been posted.
Nice to see your favorite lines - I'm always interested in that. Thanks again - always love to see you here.

Rachel, lol - thanks a bunch! I know, right? I am always fearful of an out and out coup!! I really appreciate your enthusiasm for this poem. ;)

Rick! So happy to hear from you. :D:D:D I have missed you, too, so much! Are you back now for a while? I sincerely hope so.
Regarding that Whitman toy with my affections, sir. (and I love it)

Walking Man - haha methinks you're right. Sounds like a good plan to me! Thank you very much. ;)

Vesper - so you know what I am talking about! lol - I truly appreciate your good remarks. It doesn't surprise me that you liked the lines about the eyelids cut from tiny alien corpses!!! LOL ;))) That's our Vesper! xo

Hey Cat - I love that you found this "wonderfully bizarre." That is what I strive for
Hey, leave those tomato plants alone!!! and don't be selling them out - no good will come from your actions! ;) Glad to know that my poem has far reaching effects.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Aniket - happy to have brought you a little frivolity. Thanks!

Margaret said...

Your strawberry plants reminded me of teenagers straying off the right path and parents trying everything possible to bring them back.
Lovely poem K. with a perfect last stanza.

K.Lawson Gilbert said... are so right. Teenagers do have a way of growing wild and free. lol Thanks so much for the nice comment.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that this was really fabulous. Worth of being recorded and remembered. So many life lessons stnading over that garden soil.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Jason - I appreciate your comment. I agree, I think we can learn a lot from tending gardens. Like people, gardens need both cultivation and wildness (freedom). I believe it is that dichotomy that makes for a balanced existence in gardens and people. Thanks, again!

Rab said...

Beware - the strawberries will use stealth and guile to their advantage.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Rab - thanks for the warning....

Bob said...

Outstanding, Kaye... what a way to start my morning, with this beautiful poem in my head now for the rest of the day... such poetic imagery for the savagery of a garden... beautiful work!

Linda S. Socha said...

Outstanding.....I would love to hear this one you!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Bob - "savagery of a garden" Oh, so true those words - and poetic in and of themselves. Thanks, as ever, for such a flattering compliment. It means so much to me.

Linda - I really have to figure out how to do that. I am so very basic when it comes to this stuff. Thanks for you sweet remark and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I hope you don't mind that I added you to my blogroll, I look forward to reading more of your stuff. :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

namingconstellations - Welcome to Old Mossy Moon. How nice of you to stop in and leave a sweet remark. I certainly don't mind you adding this blogspot to your site. Thanks so much!! :)