When I was a kid, I rarely interacted directly with nature.
I did catch grasshoppers in ball jars in the tall grasses of an empty lot across the street from my house, and I helped my grandparents find “nightcrawlers” (worms) in their backyard for fishing. But I hadn’t helped plant a garden until I was in my twenties.
I wrote this poem in the summer of 2003. Because it’s planting season now (yes, I know it’s practically June, but late spring in Mt. Shasta is very late this year), I was remembering my first experience intentionally working in the soil and thought about having written this years ago.
This poem, however, goes beyond gardening. It expresses our ability to move beyond what we know, get our hands a bit dirty, and discover parts of ourselves that we never knew could fly. Enjoy!
I never knew
Field cricket in a mason jar, I’ve lasted decades
the distance between me and nature as thick as
glass, watching spruce hedges soar high, weeping
willows touch the ground. Sitting on my heels, I plant
seeds for the first time – six inch spaces, half inch deep
pat the dirt lightly to keep my fingernails clean.
Tiny black ants tunnel through and I flinch
as bugs I never knew had wings leap into flight.