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Herb Keeper


Ray Cruz

April 3, 1999

From my veins grow the vines.
I am the gardener of my yard,
The keeper of my herbs,
The master of my plantation.

My eyes divide the plants from the weeds.
My hands sow the seeds in places I determine.
Pulses from my heart
Propel the water to the earth.

Walk with me, talk with me,
Visit with my squirrels and my finches.
Touch the flowers, pluck the fruits,
Listen to the flowing springtime passion.

The gray upon my temples matched
By daunting limbs on trees I planted as a child.
My hand is seen on cement marks,
My care is known by trees I chose to spare.

The gods of water, life and warmth
Are married mercilessly here.
In the struggle I partake
To pitch my path and build my bench.

My goal, if any, is not great.
I do not clamor for the tallest limb.
I do not stretch to suck the moisture.
I do not brag about my pretty petals.

But I admit, I need the green.
I need the yellow, red and brown.
I pull and kill a plant or two,
To make a place for newer friends.

Herb keeper,
Plant seeder,
Path sweeper,
Yard weeder.

Neighbors say I work too hard.
Employ a gardener, I should.
Of course, they're right, someday I shall.
But first I must design the plan.

Which plant goes where?
Which one to spare?
How can I teach the gardener to love
The tree my brother planted...
The tree that cracks the terrace...
The tree that fills a dozen trash barrels with leaves each year?

The child I was had simple chores.
Throw water on the yard.
And when I did, new plants emerged.
The boy became a gardener.

Lesson two came soon enough.
Remove a branch from up above,
And liberate new growing things.
Beneath one weed, two blossoms stretch for sunlight.

It's fun to randomly attack
The weeds that thrive on happenstance.
Naked fingers feel the roots
That tools may otherwise ignore.

Of course, I love my weapons, too.
Simple, old and new:
Weed Twister, hoe and turnip screw.
Herb keeper, Samurai!

I am the gardener of my yard,
The keeper of my herbs,
The master of my plantation.
Vines growing from my veins,
Growing, stretching from my veins.


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