What it is to be a gardener
written by David C Johnson copyright 2014

It is to marvel at the generosity
of God's botany.
It is to see at first hand new growth, mildew, dearth,
To scratch thin starved earth,
To suffer slugs, snails,
Equinoctial gales.
It is to know plenty, to caress the full girth

Of outrageous pumpkins plumped and poised for show,
Their bronzed skins aglow
With September sun. It is to welcome small friends
To your acre's ends:
Solitary bees, stag beetles and dragonflies-
Shucked from nymph disguise.
It is to lurk bucket in hand primed to defend

Your song-bird fledglings from the next-door neighbour's cat.
It is to mark that
Catalogue of bulbs and order fifty maybe more.
It is to explore
Seed packets stacked on kitchen shelf
Descriptive of the plant itself.
To speculate on what the season has in store

To grow seeds on tables by south-facing windows
To ride with the blows
That frost and a late-coming spring can deliver
To feel the shiver
Of delight at the first spike through
The grass of fritillary. Due
Messenger of exponential growth, hope giver.

It is to come home tired, cursing the busy roads
To find nematodes
In cartons filling your fridge, when you had hoped for
Something more to gnaw
Than latent death for chafer grubs.
It is to greet swelling buds
To imagine their palette bright and then damn sod's law

That you will be absent holidaying in France
As the sweet peas dance
And bedazzle in the teasing breeze of summer
Dumber and dumber
Because you did the same last year!
It is to don protective gear
Then fire up the ancient petrol-driven strimmer

Only to lose focus for less than a heartbeat
And behead your Sweet
Williams, that had survived all that nature could sling
At them. Yet the thing
Is, no matter, the disasters,
A gardener's hope always masters
Despair and prepares for what the next spring will bring