Marigolds

by Sally Arango Renata
SC Writers Workshop
Honorable Mention, May 2008
Judged by Patricia Smith


Rust scallops the red wheelbarrow,
left too long in mud by the shed. Still,
it carries the white rocks that have to be
cleared from the garden – in time
they’ll be spread as a path.

The handle on the short shovel is broken,
but held right, it cuts sharp through stones
and carries them to the mound of clippings,
weeds, the alien balls of bound roots.

The rose can use morning sun and composted
dung. I trim dried buds and yellow leaves,
more than one thorn penetrates my thin gloves.
I take them off to mound the soil

around the crown of root, leaving them off
to stick my finger in sandy soil
planting seeds. Peppers, tomatoes,
broccoli, collards, I’ll can what I can’t eat —

or trade with the neighbor for pears
when their tree is weighed, breaking,
abundant.

It was called a Victory Garden during the Big War
when sugar and meat were rationed, but the garden
for this war will be called Forgiveness,

and I’ll surround it with marigolds,
so the souls can find their way home.


I love the simple instructive tone of this piece, its solidness and warmth. I couldn't decide if the last night was touching or trite, so--maybe because I'm a child of concrete and brick, pitifully inept in matters of the soil--I chose to be touched. --Patricia Smith

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