Catherine Barnett

Gardener’s Song

When I plant the seeds,

I pack the dirt back hard.


When the garden comes up,

I spit on the greenest leaf.


When the tree bears fruit, black thread

through its branches frightens


the birds,

keeps them away.


Against hail: verbena.

Against lightning: laurel.


I’ve got nothing against the moon,

the moon stays in the sky,


nothing against the wind,

the wind can be kind,


but against your ardor,

O surrogate of the air—


I’ve got apples, a seckle pear,

the knife left gleaming here.


To cut them open,

as you do us—


and peer inside them,

as you do us—


O moth, O seed, O spider, O worm—

As you do us.



Gardener’s Song first appeared in Shenandoah, vol 54, number 3, Winter 2004.