Winter Garden

Mine is a winter garden now, arranged
properly, founded on many lessons learned
along the way, from mistakes suffered,
great and small, in the gardens of before.

I sharpened and oiled the tools, fixed the
loose spade handle, washed the garden gloves,
and began the pulling of weeds and the
preparing of soil on hands and bended knees.

Pests of memory come to winter gardens like
aphids, distracting me from the joy of that
sweet labor, droning their stinging refrains,
neither tiring nor buzzing away.

Seedlings I planted eight weeks before the first
frost date, as new cloches were fashioned,
simple and inexpensive, to protect
the plants from the coming wind and cold.

The pests assailed as they must, persisting
in unforgiveness, ever managing to undermine
the pleasant thoughts in my old head, marring
what little remain of time and beauty.

Turning with grit, I began planting blubs
for winter color, having sowed the vegetables –
garlic, onions, leeks and chard – then took
pruning shears to the rosebushes.

Come January there will be no seed ordering
for planting in a spring garden, because as I
said before, and bear not to say again, mine
is a winter garden now, arranged properly.

© Stanley Toledo 2020

Stanley Toledo writes verse and plays, which are performed in theatres in the U.S. and aboard. His work has been published in Ponder Review, Santa Ana River Review, Luminous Expression, Grand Little Things, Sage Cigarettes and elsewhere. He lives in the California delta.