Donnie’s First Garden
by Kathy Lohrum Cotton

It was the not-knowing that drove him to it,
the unseen seeds drumming open

and root-strings strumming
beneath furrowed dirt in his front yard.

And spuds—doing what?
under rows of line-dancing shoots

from the blind eyes he planted face-up.
Donnie shoveled up the potatoes,

just to check them, then returned
the small knots to the silence of graves.

And those green-striped melons bulging
among hairy leaves and curly vines …

it wasn’t yet a hundred days,
but weren’t they sugar-sweet red inside?

Three stabs of his kitchen blade plugged
each thick rind. Donnie peeked into

the little windows then patched them back.
So it was, much of his first garden rotted,

but not the crop of flavorless tomatoes,
impatiently picked green. And not

the reeking row of pungent marigolds.
He plucked the tiny sharp-stick seeds

from each spent golden flower,
counted hundreds one by one into a Mason jar,

harvesting the next year's garden
in his dreams.

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