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 gone unwatered in summer
was like the long ash unraveling
the unsmoked cigarette between my lips,
stiff until the tubers give way and crumble
at my slightest awareness.
So I neglected it, full of guilt
because in Spring I enjoyed it
without effort, and took for granted
such generous showers that did my work
and asked nothing in return.
Now it looked at me with averted gaze
the way an old lover might turn away,
ashamed and conscious that I
had left her, it mattered not for what.
I uncoiled the long-sleeping hose
and turned the spigot, twisting silver webs
like ribbons around a maypole,
found a chair and sat there awhile
to pay the attention I had owed.
Neither of us looked directly,
we were too embarrassed,
the garden ashamed of its appearance,
looking withered by wildfire,
myself, penurious, withholding of
such bare and frail anatomies.
How easy was it to water
returning home from that graveyard shift,
eyes blighted by dread insomnia?
Finding no answer that satisfied,
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.
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 had 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 all for
watering, that was all it took —
then why quit caring for it?