Full summer now.
Already warm at seven a.m.
and no rain to speak of
for a couple of weeks,
so the flowers and shrubs
need water nearly every day.
Sometimes morning, sometimes afternoon,
depending on temperatures
and schedules, but I
like it best first thing,
outdoors barefoot and shirtless,
in just a pair of training shorts,
coffee mug in left hand,
sprayer wand in right,
young sun’s first soft rays
caressing my bare shoulders,
just a little bit of breeze.
(The cat, meanwhile,
grooms herself, then stalks
the day’s first rabbit.)
The job’s easier now with
the hoses; I lug the water-cans
around only when
it’s time for fertilizer.
It doesn’t take long, but
I take my time with it,
going by force of habit
in the usual order:
Pentas, calibrocoa, marigolds
and calendula, pentunias in the pot,
daisies, heather, lilies on the way past,
red salvia and celosia next to
the bench beside the garage.
Then the spearmint and catnip,
the striped petunias in beds.
Finally the azaleas, big and thirsty.
That’s the front done, then.
(The cat has grown bored
with the rabbit, nibbles
a bit of salmon in juice,
laps up some water.)
Around back, it’s tomatoes, oregano;
clematis, the start of a vine from a
work friend—don’t know what it’s called—
something I forgot the name of
from my next-door neighbor.
The rosemary’s still surprisingly moist,
will have to check for proper drainage;
caladium in the shade is happy as it is.
(The cat licks her lips, stretches, dozes.)
It’s work, I guess, but peaceful,
pleasant work, spotting new growth,
setting down my coffee to pluck
spent blossoms as I go.
Around front again to put away
the hoses, waving to dog walkers,
neighbors starting their day (I’ve
often learned the dogs’ names
before I know the owners’,
communing with nature in her
gentle morning mood; she’ll
turn harsh around eleven.
Almost finished, coiling the hoses;
a couple of robins splash
in the runoff from the pots.
(The cat, asleep, hears a bark,
alerts to check it out—only one
of the familiar dogs next door—
returns to her nap.)
The day is heating up now;
I’ve worked up a sweat.
I’ll have my second cup,
but maybe over ice, sip it
while I do tai chi as best I can
while fighting off mosquitoes.
Then I have to face the day for real.
(I swear the cat is smirking, gloating.)
T. Allen Culpepper