Mary's Garden

Sep 4, 2020

Today’s poem is “Mary’s Garden” by Margaret Haberman, who has lived in Maine since 1986. She spent over 20 years in Bethel now lives in the outer reaches of Hope. She works professionally as a sign language interpreter and writes poetry in the places in between. 

She writes, “I wrote this poem in mid-August last year about the garden I share with my friend Mary. It originated as an assignment to write about a place. I was at a loss as to where to go and what to write, so I just walked into the garden and sat down in the middle of all the plants.”

Mary’s Garden
by Margaret Haberman

I know you wanted order
and giant pumpkins. Neat rows
of greens, early peas, tomatoes
firmly bound in their red and silver cages.
Eggplant for parmesan, leeks for soup,
red hot curly chilis, for the late
season comers.

You didn’t ask for the accidental
calendula, which I protected
from your hummingbird hands
by a circle of rocks, our own
little henge, homage to serendipity.
Now, a mass of yellow and orange
sticky and sweet, stalk and stem,

You did not want the sunflowers
in every corner, leaning toward center
like soldiers, round faces of gold and rust,
prickly middles, full of hope and soon
ravaged by crows. Plowed
under, like all of it.

You wanted giant pumpkins
outside the borders.
Not these plants marching
toward the middle of the garden.
Elephant ear leaves marred by mold
wrinkles yellow and brown.
Grey bugs scurrying
for camouflage.

Look at that green heft of globe-like fruit,
longing to be orange, to get that far.
To outlive droughts, floods,
the unavoidable press of feet.
To make it past September
to the first of the hard frosts
and sweetness.

I know, you wanted everything
to go as planned.
But isn’t it glorious?
The sunflowers watching over us, the tomatoes
in a chorus of red, amber, and honey.
The pumpkins moving inexorably
filling up the empty spaces
with green, with tiny thorns, with all the scars
and bountifulness of having made it
this far.

Poem copyright 2018 by Margaret A. Haberman