Who knows what possessed me, a city girl,
to try and garden. I like weeds that burst
through concrete, not tulips, with their placid
petals, so polished and symmetrical.
Community gardens have boundaries, designated plots.
When you leave and tell me not to worry,
I am ham-fisted. I never cultivate well.
There’s no cell service.
But it was a decade ago when you loved her.
Maybe I should take a friendly pitchfork to the garden.
Approximate strangers gather under tenements
to plant rows of crops and flowers in nitrogen oxide soil.
Neighbor Josette tends her formaldehyde melons
tenderly next to Lou’s sulfate particle beans.
I’m growing a vine that sneaks out of the garden, into the world.
Last week our hands were glorious — ripping shirts,
our laugh riots sprouting like crabgrass.
I savor, with faltering trust. I never learned to identity
the calls of birds — other than the pigeon.
Instead of leaves, my vine has grown hands, strong and sensuous.
Upstairs I await an email.
I know more about foreign internet cafes than I do about gardens.
Emails can germinate across continents, sprout on empty screens.
Light speed pollination.
The hands on my vines twist, twist incessantly – carpel tunnel vines.
I bring compost, mulch. Anxiously, amorously,
I direct my vine past the garden fence. The stubborn vine refuses,
its hands are jaundiced but swift, the fingers reach, grab,
and I thrash – landing on concrete – familiar, fractured, hard.
Julie Bolt is Professor of literature and writing at Bronx Community College/CUNY. Recently, she was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Transformative Learning in the Humanities. Her poems have appeared in Thieves Jargon, Slow Trains, The Red River Review, Syntax, Shot Glass Journal and Home Planet News, amongst others.