Published poem


I had to stop the mint
in the garden. The bush
had grown high as my waist
and was creeping out of its
corner like a quiet cancer just
under the skin. Now it surfaced–
no fanfare like the day the hollyhock
reached the roof. Ankle-high shoots
invaded rosemary, shadowed the parsley,
and had reached even the blue carnations
in the middle. Only the old rosebush next
to the mint stood free; it had extended one
stickery branch over my head. I cut it first.
Each tug at new mint exploded moist topsoil,
exposed white roots that never broke like
dandelions’ but traced back to the bush.
Each plant released its oil to my hands,
permeated my clothing, then the whole
backyard. Two pansy plants, so
intertwined with those white
cords, popped out of life
dirt when I pulled. Only
later, as I gathered up
the piles of prunings,
did I see on the back
of my right hand
two drops of

–from Island of Geese and Stars: Bainbridge Island Poets and Artists, Bainbridge Writing Workshop, Bainbridge Island, WA, 1984.

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