body, growth, Outdoors, Poetry

Garden Crone



Ignore if you must what bends in the flat beds along the stretch of highway spooling out ahead,
those crepe-skinned crones in sun hats you could almost mistake for scarecrows.
Do you pause to wonder how old ladies always end up in the garden?
Do you notice us at all?

Invisibility is our curse for certain, though one we have a hand in casting.
Having finally spurned the burden of your gaze,
we work to maintain the illusion that our fullness is yours to grant
and revoke.
But there is no end to pleasure
and its power.

Youth is a fiction designed to seduce.
It fooled me too, until my breath began to move in sync
with cycles of the sun.
I’m just now learning to hear the song that plays along the spider silk,
learning to lower the spade and turn
the dark rot cooking in the bowl of my belly.
It takes courage to enter the dominion of widows and hags
lines etching every crevice to a trench,
initiation rites of the ancients
tattooing our flesh.

Grimace if you must at our sclerotic hunch.
Here’s what you don’t know yet:
In the stretches of contortion down in the weeds
pain actually recedes.
Synovial fluid mingling with what leeches up along the snaking root.
Through joints scud the same worm and grub that aerate the loam beneath,
loosing the long knotted places, balming the old wounds.

Cringe if you must at the prospect of your own wilting
But know this:
We age by years made up of minutes,
so many spent in bruising battle with the hustle.
Meanwhile our elemental makeup inches ever nearer
to what we eventually find ourselves coaxing into the light.
Like leaf and stem, we learn to drink the downpour.

Shiver if you must at what haunts these rattlebones
But notice too: In the efflorescence of our alchemy,
we’ve found ways to make our flesh the flesh of everything.
We tuck a secret into every seed dropped into the furrow.
When they split open and release their lacing of roots,
we follow, tracing our own stories deeper still.
We belong to the unfurling trumpets of foxglove and trillium
as much as we ever have to our fecund human hatchings.

If you let your gaze linger on us tending our little plots
you begin to grasp the nature of your march across the teeming planet,
against a merciless clock.
You have crossed the threshold of one hidden passage then the next.
Bedroom to classroom to timesheet to vault.
The crypt is the final stop.
Believe that if you must.
But you might, like us, emerge, finally, in the garden.

It was always a migration after all.

Look here, you’ll see your own shadow in the verdure of these softening folds,
where body and foliage coalesce.
There is no separate place
where you end and the world begins.
No matter how many miles you cover, you are always only returning.

So when at last you kneel down on the damp prayer blanket of earth,
it will feel so much like burial.
Trust it is your planting.
And this place you dread as the site of your end,
Don’t recoil. Come:
This is where your next birth begins.

Image: Seeds of the Crone

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