A POEM A DAY 1: Growing nightmares
In honour of National Poetry Month, the Telegraph will be featuring a different poem each day all through April. Today’s first installment is from Rossland’s own Almeda Glenn Miller and it’s called ‘Growing nightmares’…featuring a theme that any Rossland gardener should be able to relate to on a wet and slushy April day…
There are moles in the backyard so I adopt a 25 lb cat named Tolstoy because he uses long sentences and extravagant names like lavendula, campanula, and Anna Karenina to name the sightless rodents he eviscerates on the basement carpet. I’m pretty sure this is political.
The neighbourhood boys have been trying to sell dirt from their red wagon so I send them into the backyard to pocket gophers and while they are hunting I slip the radishes some laudanum because radishes have notorious crushes on little boys. While they are falling in love, they don’t even notice they’re being culled. I don’t mention to the radishes that I’ve been breaking the necks of day lilies because they continue to bloom at night or not at all. “Day, get it,” I say to them and then snap off their pretty yellow heads.
Weeds dangle from my hands like scalps and they are the bloody reminder that my back is busted from rota tilling, raking and mulching with 4 different kinds of shit but the Wisteria still hasn’t bloomed, and as I write this poem there are four know-it-alls that have some advice on how to force those blooms. A friend suggests peeing on them.
There is no music where the onions are planted and this might mean their bulbs will not pull up like notes but I still want to sing Sinatra and with a loaner gun from the mob shred the 50 varieties of lettuce I’ve planted between the tomatoes ringed with toilet paper rolls. There will always be collateral damage in these kinds of outbursts.
A special note to those who plant their fervour between peonies and autumn joy: the neighbours will continue to reject your generosity. Just say no to the people who show up with lettuce and bolted bokchoy to potlucks. Fuck zucchinis!
I have given my heart and soul to this garden and what do I get in return? Carrots the size of tadpoles, zucchinis as slimy as sturgeon, onions that refuse the fish analogy altogether, and potatoes that look like my knees after weeding. I’m convinced I’d starve in this town if it weren’t for California and Walla Walla. And that couple that wrote the 100 Mile Diet are living thousands of miles away from my puny brussel sprouts and woody beets. Their optimism is unwarranted in this thin mountain air.
Almeda Glenn Miller is a Rossland-based writer, performer, and teacher.