I’ve been working on editing a lot of my poems recently, and I found this to be one of the most satisfying revisions I’ve done. You can read the original here, which I posted awhile back. Sometimes I find editing to be even more rewarding than new writing. The real thing is sometimes hiding in what we thought we were trying to say, and I enjoy finding that real thing.
Late Summer Garden
The garden unwatered in summer
was like the long ash unraveling
my unsmoked cigarette, a scaffolding
of tubers that would crumble at my
slightest awareness. I neglected them,
and they repaid my guilt with aversion
the way an old lover might turn away
ashamed and conscious that I’d left
yet both of us looking to reconcile.
So I uncoiled the long-sleeping hose
the spigot twisting silver webs
like ribbons around a maypole
and found a chair for sitting awhile
Neither of us erred with sentiment
humiliated by the affair as we were
What could be shared but this alone?
And how easy was it to water now
returned from my graveyard shift
eyes blighted with dread insomnia?
Who’s sorry who’s not also hurt?
I saw no reason to apologize
nor did the garden accept my water
as a kind of guerdon, but let it sit
on the topsoil and suffocate its bed.
And suddenly a bee come from nowhere
alighted from bud to phantom bud
as if to see what help the water gave
if there was something left to salvage
The last bee when others moved on
who waited for my watering to come
But why abandon it like I did
why, if its colorful pageantry
each homecoming was like some
victory bouquet—and just for water
that was all it asked of me—
why did I quit caring for it?