A Mournful Time of Year
by Gillian Nevers

Tomorrow, if the weather holds,
we'll take clipper, spade, rake from the shed
and with hands covered in dried, dirt-caked gloves,
you'll hack dead plants down, while I snip
a small bouquet of blossoms still holding color.
We'll rake the debris onto a dirty old sheet
and drag it to the curb.

I miss the flowers that bedazzled late summer
afternoons—the reds and golden hues of August,
dull now, their stalks stripped of leaves droop
toward faded-petal strewn soil. Only our sunflowers'
yellow and orange glory hold promise of brightness.

Tomorrow, you'll prepare soil for a different crop:
garlic—Italian Purple, Polish Red, Spanish Roja.
I'll shake clods of dirt from roots and branches,
remembering June's tender lettuce before its ugly bolt;
tomatoes never ripened; this year's pitiful eggplant harvest.
I heard a gardener on the radio suggest planting cosmos
next to lettuce rows to hide August's decay.
I'll remind you to plant cosmos next year.


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