Tide Mill Farm Seedling Sale

May 10, 2019

Today’s poem is “Tide Mill Farm Seedling Sale” by Valerie Lawson. With her partner, Michael Brown, she co-edited the literary journal Off the Coast for eight years. Last year she was the editor of Three Nations Anthology: Native, Canadian and New England Writers (published by Resolute Bear Press). 

She writes, “'Tide Mill Farm Seedling Sale' was the first poem I wrote when we moved here 11 years ago. Plant sales are an introduction to the land and the people who grow things. I had moved several of my much-loved plants from zone 7 to zone 5 and hoped they would grow in their new home and, by extension, that we would make it here as well.”

Tide Mill Farm Seedling Sale 
by Valerie Lawson

The woman in the green apron combs 
unruly curly onion with her fingers,
reels off Latin names and common varieties,
tells the stories of natives and invasives.  
The Brandywine tomatoes 
have a 50/50 chance of bearing fruit. 
Cherished heritage seed planted 
in winter’s darkest hour just another
roll of the dice. That’s life in zone 5.
You trust Nova Scotias, but little else. 
 
Don’t let them tell you lavender  
doesn’t grow here, whispers 
a summer voice from away to the south. 
Roots come from many sources. Tough stock 
can appear from surprising places. 
 
From sawhorse and plywood tables 
we choose, artemisia, geranium, 
campanula, campion, tomatoes, 
peppers, beans, squash, familiar plants 
or ones we know nothing about. 
Who knows what will make it this year. 
 
In the midst of our gathering, a man calls out,  
All plants are now half-price! 
The sale nearly over, the growing season short.
We need to go now, get these in the ground 
before winter comes. 

“Tide Mill Farm Seedling Sale” © 2008 by Valerie Lawson