observation of the garden


The garden is made up of nine beds, all of them covered in this morning’s snow. A salted and yellowing path through the middle. Beside my bench a massive plastic globe is growing icicles. They emerge from the base of the globe like a neck. On the top of the globe, a cap of fresh snow, the North Pole buried somewhere underneath. Climate anxiety: everything is a sign. The projection of the next glaciation, a plate of ice fully enveloping Europe, creeping over North Africa.

The dips between my fingers cold, dry, a scar where a leech bit me in October, remembering the oval of blood it left behind when I yanked it off. A wound best healed in humid air; a note to self to wait until May.

Here is a sketch of a garden, the branches brown and grey lines, nothing filled out or filled in. These are the contours to be recalled from first glance, the scene before me a study, a rough draft, a gist of what will later become. The shrubs beyond my feet taking up barely any space, thin lines gesturing at something that once held volume, thin lines pushing through the blocks of snow. The wood on the bed frame is peeling back. When the wind blows the whole branch moves—the season has sucked the elasticity away.  At the base of the rigid shrub a cluster of cracking oak leaves, bowling at the center, holding snow.

I move to the other side of the garden. Here, rosemary growing in the corner of a bed, poking out of three inches of snow. The tops of the stems have been trimmed. I imagine frozen cores inside of them and wonder what it would take to thaw it. I hold the stem in my closed hand but it doesn’t seem to be receiving the warmth.

Another bed. Here, hollow stems that, when closely approached, seem to be covered in tiny hairs. I touch them and find they are somewhere between thorny and soft—the fur of an old animal, thinning out.

Another bed. Dark grey stems tapering and looping at the top. Closely approached—threadlike appendages along the stem: coils, lowercase ‘e’s. There is one green potted plant in the garden. Its leaves are glossy and rimmed with thorns.

A compost pile off to the side: dirtless roots, branches bursting with air, an unblemished pumpkin set neatly at the top. The scrub brush makes something like a frame, holding snow in suspension and giving easily when kicked.


April 2nd

late afternoon faint whir of the generator coming from the nearby building again looking at the soil in the garden seems to have little caves in it as though water was once on top maybe in snow a layer of water has made ridges made caves through the soil sort of has an aerated quality to it sort of like risen bread as though if I stepped on it it would be sink easily it seems as though melting snow has left behind particles on the top of the soil as the water seeped in the solid particles stayed on top of the soil trying to figure out what they are/    /seeing a lot of white/     /white bits of shells leaves a lot of shells some white stones I step on the soil forms to the shape of my foot/    /there are dead leaves that immediately crumble when I step on them now I’m rubbing my foot into the soil though the surface was bumpy it immediately levels the surface appears dry but the moment I put pressure on it the water from beneath begins to expand fill the space flattens out has a powdery compactable quality/     / a lot of wood chips in the soil a couple of weeds that are beginning to sprout/     /everything has a messier and debris-strewn look to it the weeds that are beginning to sprout are plantain they grow in little clusters or circles a series of green petal leaves making a spiral/    /in another part of the soil it almost seems like water has carved these cracks crevices the soil becomes the shape of a canyon again easily compressed when I put my foot on it realizing I’m destroying small structures every time I step on them/           /walking around/     / I’ve entered a patch of light oh my gosh I’m caught by the sight of these two beautiful purple flowers growing in a really thin oval cone shape they’re whiter as they approach the stem very bright deep purple at the top of the petals with orange centers orange tufts in the middle/      /it’s clear the petals haven’t totally unfurled they’re still holding to the centers them keeping warmth in/  /nearby oh these are probably tulips I see now this whole bed is covered with green stems something like pitchers curling inward very smooth there are other purple flowers all along this bed the ones that haven’t unfurled yet are in the shadow of the globe the purple ones that have unfurled are a bit more pale the inside is less orange more a mustard yellow/               /someone has put out a piece of plastic over part of the bed it’s collecting some water on top and condensation underneath forming little beads of water clinging to the top the plastic is being held in place by metal skewers the plastic is wavering in the wind it is torn in some spots where it is torn it has an irregular ridge /     / punctured by the metal punctured by a stick to keep it down parts of the plastic have been covered by soil underneath the plastic there are weeds growing the plastic is transparent underneath the plastic little green sprouts are growing I’m lifting up the plastic and feeling that the soil beneath it is warm and moist and sticking to my fingers it’s definitely the warmth that is catching my attention the water that is on top of the plastic is quite cold still but probably will heat over the course of the day continuing to walk around the plots in all of the plots the dirt is plush the soil has not been combed over yet I see a bone a white bone almost looks like a shell what else what else the rosemary still looks just as dead as it looked last time/                                               /much more here/


The season is swelling into its final form and so today it is at its softest. I don’t know how to trace the change I didn’t see. I see my professor walk by on the sidewalk; we have a short conversation while he is in motion, a slow rotation of the head to meet mine in the corner of the garden I’ve placed myself in. I sit above mulch collaged in patchy browns. There is little I can trace from the last time I was here. I cannot remember what has been filling the days and because of it the garden has moved so fast. Today, a clean cut. Six pale yellow mushrooms slanting out of the woodchips. Finger-length weeds leaking where the feet of the table puncture the ground. This time of year is a welling and I do not know if it is because of a low-grade cold I haven’t been able to shake for weeks—one that hasn’t fully unfolded, still seed-form in the body, the softest one I’ve had. The tree above me is almost full of leaves, none of them tender and tearing but none of them yet complete. A tree just barely full. I am familiar with where it needs to go—the outline it still needs to meet. I am walking through the day and I know it is almost there, not quite yet. The week in an exhale. The tree is spilling with birds. A mouse came so close to me I thought the space between us had finally cracked open. A pinch on my ankle and I assume it’s coming from inside of me, as I know to do all winter long. I look down and I see an orange dot. Here at this welling-point the outsides are clinging to your surfaces. Find collections on the skin you tucked away. The dust in my bedroom thickened so quickly—where was the dust all these months. I see it in a spiral gauze beneath my bed, at the base of my lamp. Tomatoes: drooping, crinkled. Sneezing is how I know spilling over the rims. The moon over the garden—nothing in light but a single concrete prism.

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