Neat black envelopes, emboldened
By images, offer up their names:
Kale, turnip, radish, pea, and the divine tomato,
Chestnut Chocolate, Pink Brandywine, Atomic Grape.
A litany of desire prayed at the kitchen table.

For all their dignity, the seed packets,
Like the lugubrious catalogues,
Make promises for the far-off spring—
The images, no less than the copy, say:
“Great Taste!” “Huge Yields!” “No Blight!”

So the gardener thumbs his prayer-book,
Marks the transplant days with reverence,
Thinks only of the planting, not the harvest—
The promise of the covenant, not the covenant itself.
Hoping for hope, like Abram and Sarai.

The promise is not nature as Heraclitean fire
Or analogue of the divine—
Nor the Romantic’s holy wild,
Nor the pagan’s fecund earth-mother.
The gardener’s is a humbler bond:

Not the fulfillment of the catalogue text,
Not the realization of the envelope image,
Not a cellar full of potatoes or even germinating seed—
Just a small task outdoors, in warming weather,
And the faith-filled sight:

Scattered seed on the fertile earth.

By: a friend.