An Observation

When water from a garden can

with a shower-head sprayer

pours over chrysanthemum blooms,

it doesn’t just run off, but, instead,

bubbles and beads and rolls

around the clustered tiny petals

of white and crimson blossoms,

until it forms perfect droplets

that slide slowly off their ends.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper


Out doing the morning watering,

I notice the plain white van with out-of-state plates

circling my block, turning around, backwarding and forwarding,

finally stopping two doors down.

My suspense building, I can’t help watching closely

while pretending absorption in my gardening task.

And finally, slowly, the driver’s door opens,

and out climbs a woman, spry, but of a certain age,

in an old-fashioned floral housedress

of the kind my grandmother would have worn,

and longish grey hair pulled back

into a simple ponytail.

Pulling on a pair of spring-green rubber gloves,

she bends forward and gets right to work,

her ballooning bloomers showing from behind,

lifting large decorative rocks from my neighbor’s flower bed

and loading them into the van.

I know the activity must have been authorized,

because I think my neighbor might have mentioned

re-doing the bed, and both of her cars are home,

and only the most incompetent of thieves

would have approached her work so slowly and obviously;

and anyway, she often issues odd invitations.

As I turn off the water and re-coil the hose,

the rock-taking strikes me as just the sort of project

that such a woman, having made up her mind,

would undertake early on a Sunday morning

in August at its hottest.

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

Morning Watering

Morning Watering


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.)


Copyright 2012

T. Allen Culpepper