I Garden Weeds by Ethan Goffman






I wouldn’t say I have a brown thumb.
Fresh green weeds spring up where I garden,
the flowering natives.

I cultivate a wild look,
but when does the cultivation end
and weedy wildness begin?
What is art?
what is dishevelment?

All gardening means
tending living things
with tiny minds of their own,
selecting them, herding them,
eliminating undesirables,
bringing order to
wild, green beating hearts.

Writing poems
is a kind of gardening,
from the soil of the spirit.
What does one control?
Are weeds gifts from the wild?
from the oversoul?

To garden, one must get down in the dirt.
Never be afraid to prune,
as an old girlfriend, of sorts, told me.
She pulled out men as abruptly
as I yank dandelions the instant I spot
their lovely, golden heads.

In the main garden bed,
I scrape out, dig out, wrench out
weeds, weeds, weeds, weeds.
Gnarly little interlopers
with fluffy white flowering balls,
viny running weeds, encircling,
boisterous, broad-leafed things,
puny patches of innocent clovers.

As one wise gardener said,
a weed is just a plant that has not found a champion.

No matter how I prune and pull
the soil of my soul
I’ve lost control
of my garden,
my unruly thoughts,
dreams, wild words.

Ungrateful little weeds
peek out,
say, “don’t hurt us,
we are
gifts of nature
who made us all.”

Ethan Goffman’s first volume of poetry, Words for Things Left Unsaid, is just out from Kelsay Books.  His poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, BlazeVox, Bradlaugh’s Finger, Burgeon, The Loch Raven Review, Mad Swirl, MadnessMuse, Ramingo’s Blog, Setu, and elsewhere. Ethan is 
co-founder of It Takes a Community, a Montgomery College initiative bringing poetry to students and local residents.  He is also founder and producer of the Poetry & Planet podcast on EarthTalk.org.

Image by mieoli – uitstaande melde (Atriplex patula), CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3020781

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