At the Edge of the Garden

Poem: At the Edge of the Garden by Linda Whittenberg.
Published in Tender Harvest.

Photograph - "Screen Door" by Teri Thomson Randall

Grandfather drops the plow
and calls my name.
His broad, calloused palms hold
a nest of baby rabbits, naked, blind
fragile. I know what it means.
I’ve seen Grandfather wring
chickens’ necks. It is
my job to pluck pin feathers.
In bed upstairs, Great-grandmother
became a crumbled leaf.

Sounds spill from kitchen—radio music
sizzle of grease, Grandmother’s footsteps.
Door slaps shut, she’s down to the cellar
for peaches or cherries.
Pump squeaks. One day
even she
will be beyond help.
It will happen to him
to me, blind, naked

Will the air, then, smell
of fresh-plowed soil
compost and manure? Will it be time
to plant sweet corn, beans
canning tomatoes, and, for the storm cellar
turnips and potatoes?
Will there be gladioli
marigolds, zinnias big as platters?
Will there be strong
work-worn hands
to hold us?