Garden Augury

Thu Nguyen

It’s been a week of betrayals:
the wind biting,
cold penetrating my bones,
suddenly reminding me
no preparation is ever enough.
Who even knows now
how anything we planted will survive
because we were too hopeful, unarmed
against a wind that wants to bend us,
break us at our roots.

Just as I fortify against
each new extreme,
another shift–
unexpected sun and softness
when I have already spent too long
hardening myself.

So the plants are all dropping their leaves,
and I am helpless, not knowing
if I should intervene,
or how,
unsure if this shedding is
what they mean to do,
the beginning of their relief.

Gone five days and the peonies
have blown up green leaves
without my worrying and watching.
It makes me wonder what else
might thrive if I look elsewhere
for even just a moment,
do nothing and ask nothing.

But who can help themselves?
I move my money plant–
the one I’ve managed to accidentally
keep alive all these years–
into the sun, falsely thinking
it needed what I need,
but it’s burnt now;
the leaves are crisply dropping all over,
I can hear their cracking
under my feet, scolding me
to step more lightly,
to have a care.

Yet there were years and years
where carelessness paid off:
the tomatoes grew so abundantly,
we let them rot on the vine,
not knowing that when we least expected,
on a perfectly congenial day, we’d be out,
then return to an altogether changed landscape,
bare vines, red on the ground,
reminding us in our shock and grief
someone was needier than we’ve ever been.

Thu Nguyen

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

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