The Gardener’s Gaze

Dec 28, 2018

Today’s poem is “The Gardener’s Gaze” by Sheila Gray Jordan. Sheila lives year-round on Chebeague Island and is the author of three collections of poems, Winter Wall, The China in the Sea and, most recently, Blue Ceiling. She directed the Ohio Poetry Circuit at Kenyon College in Ohio.

She writes, “I am not a gardener, but my father was devoted to his garden, and when we put in a modest raised bed beside our house, I found myself looking at it with delight. The original garden is preserved not only in the poem, but by a ‘right to a garden’ in a conservation easement held by the Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust. Under this easement, named the Gray Path, the garden and access to the shore may continue.”

The Gardener's Gaze
by Sheila Gray Jordan

Against the light, I see
my father in his garden,
at its edge, beside the rows—
intermittent green and brown—

I see the dug well, uncovered,
the galvanized bucket on its side
in the grass, its rope unlooped,

wanting coiling.
He will do it. He will replace the well’s
wood cover, reset the granite stone,
and straighten his shoulders

to stand gazing at his garden.
From the back, he does not see me
watching him, nor does the scene
recur to me until today,

when I come into his gaze,
as into an inheritance I never knew,
the raised bed beyond the deck
producing a raft of flowers,

of working bees and butterflies.

Poem copyright © 2016 Sheila Gray Jordan. Reprinted from Blue Ceiling, Stone Sloop Books, 2016, by permission of Sheila Gray Jordan.