There’s an honesty to planting,
in saying to seeds,
here’s what I want from you:

Grow until your heads touch
the tallest slat on the tumbledown wall
and then bud. Break open your heads
and flower, and when that’s done,

In return, I will give you
meal, minerals, the dung of cloven
animals. I will take measure
of your soil and add what you need,
take what I

In January, I will hang you
with leftover fir,
grind trees
to place at your

I’ll pluck snails from your leaves,
sluggish brown bodies loathe
to part from your

I will water you in a slow warm
stream, the garden hose wrapped
at my feet, a gently coiled cobra
who will not

I will break back
your dead wood.
I will feed you in spring.
I will take only what I need,
and then I will say to you:

Kate Buckley, a ninth-generation Kentuckian, now lives in Laguna Beach, California. Recipient of the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize, she is the author of A Wild Region (Moon Tide Press) and Follow Me Down (forthcoming, Tebot Bach).

*Editor’s Note: This poem received an honorable mention in The 2008 New Southerner Literary Contest (previously titled “A Garden Address.”

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  1. Glad-what I love about this is the author’s sense of purpose in harmony with nature … “I will take measure of your soil and add what you need …” and then “I will take only what I need.” So beautiful in this day and age, in a world of all-you-can-eat buffets and mass production and mass consumption … to simply plant a seed, observe the miracle of life and nurture it along, then to let it rest.

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