The Pancake Chronicles

The Pancake Chronicles: <span style="color: rgb(102, 153, 102);">lettuce in winter</span>

The Pancake Chronicles

Monday, December 03, 2007

lettuce in winter

                                The potting room was a miserable dank
                                shed, trash-chocked, roofed in plastic, blackberries
                                ingrown amid jetsam. she dragged it all
                                into the light, sifting for tools or nails, then
                                consigning the rest to dump runs. With one son,
                                the quiet one, she re-roofed the room with scraps

                                from the house job, and installed used windows.
                                On the south, a sliding door turned on its side
                                served for greenhouse glass. A friend's offer

                                of a chimney to salvage solved the question
                                of how to floor. With her other son, the tall
                                one, she rented a forty-foot ladder and picked

                                bricks from the air, frightened half to death.
                                They piled them by the plant-room door, and the girl,
                                last child, brimful of jokes and laughter, brought

                                bricks one by one, which they set face up
                                in a herringbone pattern. They swept sand and
                                mortar into the cracks, and danced in the sun

                                which already had warmed the red clay. Now for
                                a bench, painted green for the color of wishing,
                                and pots of all sizes, flats too, with a tall can

                                for watering. She hankered for lettuce in
                                winter, and sowed the flats in October. After
                                a month, wild geese and their music gone south,

                                she noted her seedlings spindly and sad,
                                so picked up a hammer and some two-by-six,
                                and built a quick coldframe with the other half

                                of the always helpful sliding door. Outside
                                on the south wall in the duck pen she framed it,
                                and dibbled the seedlings within. They liked that,

                                but a darkness comes on in December; after
                                a full day, full week, one comes home exhausted
                                to eat, to sleep, not to water gardens.

                                One thing only has saved the lettuce: the ducks
                                do not like coming in for the night. She goes
                                out to the dark to disturb them; they rush home

                                complaining while the madwoman hops and chuckles.
                                She locks them away from coyotes, and turns,
                                as in afterthought, to visit her seedlings. By feel

                                she gives them their water, and tends them, her hands
                                stretching toward summer in the unseen leaves.

                                Risa Stephanie Bear

*poem used with gracious permission from author


Blogger Captain Cat said...

This is just beautiful, that last stanza brought a lump to my throat. Oh to be able to write like that! Just lovely, thank you. And that photo is delicious, I want to eat it.

I must try to take some photos of vegetables. Radishes. They would be nice to photograph I think.

4 December 2007 at 00:18  
Blogger Sonya said...

So beautiful. I'm so glad you shared that.

4 December 2007 at 10:05  
Blogger Nan - said...

I just wanted to let you know that I tagged you for a meme on my blog:

Please don't feel obligated. Just do it if you want to.

5 December 2007 at 07:39  

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