For Anthony

Standing together on rich soil,
ready to build another garden, the ground around
us littered with tools, our sweat mixing with the soil’s musk
in an earthy duet—All around us, the lush disorder of spring,
every green thing open, clods spilling over my boots
as the scent of fresh-turned meadow rises.

It would be easy to think we always agreed—
note the dissonance between us,
that tension that makes some music so good—
the way Etta Jones’ caramel voice swings
Don’t go to Strangers so that anyone would come home to her
just to hear how she takes her time to find the note—

The way you marched through my tender seedlings
to prune our manzanita you say obstructed the view.
You were right—the seedlings loved the added light.
And me, always losing our tools in the grass,
but saving the hellebores from your big plans,
to let them raise their fists to the end of winter.

Together, we argued a dull edge along the gravel path
into a map of some imagined continent’s marshy edge,
asked the Lamb’s Ears to paddle inland,
its furry leaves to form inlets and channels
deep between the peonies and iris.
It looked good even in the January gloom.

What became of all those gardens? You never wondered,
though I would love to know the junipers still stand together
in our old border, so generous with sharp fragrance and deep nesting,
their sturdy bodies rising above a surf of daylilies.