Evening Orisons

Thank you for this plot
You have given me to tend.

In the morning I feed the roots a dark-hued brew,
made of nutrients whose names I’ve absorbed one by one,
learning that to tend is to feed.

On some afternoons I unroll white hail cloth,
pegging the corners to wooden posts,
watching the western sky for thunderheads.

My hand sweeps the alyssum free of flea beetles (they’ll be back);
I look for the ladybugs we released, hoping they have stayed
to feast on thrips. To tend is to protect.

I snap off tomato suckers — and each time,
those succulent stems kiss my skin with a fresh green scent —
a newly acquired skill, for to tend is to prune.

But all this done, when the sun bows low,
I stand and slowly turn; I sit, and tarry.

The garden in the evening is a wondrous sight.

The lettuce rows are thriving — one bitter, one sweet;
the carrots are slow.
The Brandywine tomatoes in the back row will be red —
or yellow; I forgot to label them.
Whether the hummingbirds will return to sip from the salvia
is a mystery beyond my knowing;
my one province is the state of the soil.

So I walk slowly
and weed;
I pick up stones and thin choking clusters of tender growth,
reflecting that these motions
have no power in themselves to give life,
or create fruit.

Even so, the plants are rising now.
Taking off on their own,
they shoot upward and outward
and display all their harbored secrets of color,
as if they know what they were made to do.

Evening is the hour when I see how great
and how small
is the burden of tending.

“I may have done the planting and Apollos the watering,
but it was God who made the seed grow!
The planter and the waterer are nothing
compared with him who gives life to the seed.”
– I Cor. 3:6-7, Phillips.

Oh, Master Gardener. 
Bless these two gardens 
as they grow.