Gabriel Welsch

Beer Bottle

Even by the dry gold mornings of autumn we still
went to the daylily fields, coffee steamed and unshaven
to dig the roots, plunge our thumbs in the flesh,
pry the rhizomes apart, cup the fans into rows
for blossoms months away to flare and fade
in a single day. When the sun reached its height,
its blanket of light punched with chill wind,
we stood for the breeze, drank coffee
and ate soup from cartons, put new
cassettes in the tape deck. For me,
then, it was a job. I was so easily fooled.
I didn’t know the full weight of propagation,
all the word held, the work itself a rhizome
able to twist its energies to whatever purpose
avails itself.
Labeling rows with Sharpies and plastic tags,
with metal sign placards and buried wire,
preserving the beds for another harvest of daylilies,
by the whitewashed barn we counted days
in numbers of fans, rows, divisions,
loss in busted rhizomes, fans too slender
to plant, that easy accounting a solid post
on which to hang a day. For years after I left,
I knew I could return to that barn, find
the Molson bottle stuffed in haste behind a spar
when you and I bleached the potting area
one February day. The boss arrived, and we stowed
our beers, hustled back to work. It provided
a home for spiders and worms, I suppose,
within that barn that I still smell in the leaf mold
breezes spinning pollen into a benediction.
for Tim Lang

Gabriel Welsch
Beer Bottle was first published in Inkwell, Spring 2005.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Gabriel Welsch
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse