Gardening can provide nourishment for the body through healthy vegetables and fresh fruits. It can offer nourishment for the soul in lush foliage and gorgeous flowers. But gardening can also heal us. The effort of digging, planting, weeding, and harvesting can bring life to tired muscles. The care we give to a garden can refresh a tired spirit. Even writing garden poems and stories can bring comfort to minds filled with worry and trouble.
Prize Fighter, by Linda Delmont tackles those last two issues. In this short poem, we learn that the garden is a place of healing and connection for her and her son after “another failed drug test,” and “too many of his sly lies.” Taking responsibility for the garden, including the “ten-foot tomato vine,” she realizes, is one step on his path to recovery.
There’s so much I love about this piece. The emotions are right there, barely contained. Sadness, regret, but also hope. And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that a garden, ultimately, is about hope. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have a speck of dirt in my eye …
While gardens grow vegetables, gardening poems can grow hope.
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject the joy of gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!
By Linda Delmont
Unto a hole in our yard deep
enough to bury a body, my son dumps
eggshells, onion skins, biodegradable
scraps, uses a shovel to churn
the debris like a sailor rowing
in a hurricane. Watching him,
I almost forget the hurt inflicted
by a troubled teen, remember
him as a child, playing in a sandbox,
the 3-year old I once lost at the park
and knew I would die to find. Forbidden
by his father to use the car after another
failed drug test, he asks me to drive
him to Orange County Farm Supply
where I offer up my credit card
like an oblation to pay for various
seedlings, fragrant herbs such as thyme
with leaves as tiny as my trust
after too many of his sly lies.
Though I expect the garden
to be just another whim like the guitar
and his grades, the plants flourish—
his favorite a ten-foot tomato
vine he calls the Prize Fighter.
But the real prize are the meals
he creates: eggplant, okra, sugar
snap peas sauteed with pasta,
broccoli, carrots, peppers over rice.
I savor every bit, relish the soothing
smell of basil, knowing this is as close
as he’ll ever arrive to that illusive
ninth step, making amends ❖
By Linda Delmont, published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #106. Illustrations by Linda Cook Devona.
Did you enjoy this gardening poem? Leave a comment below with your favorite poem!