Literary Hook: Poet savors garden experience

Benjamin Vogt’s poem “Planting” reminds us that while we enter the fall season, we can be assured that spring and summer will come again. This poem, an honorable mention in The Rock River Times Poetry and Prose Contest, is lush and deliciously filled with vivid description. I admired the poet’s knowledge of specific flora, his use of simile, and his richly woven sensory detail.

Benjamin Vogt, a fellow Midwesterner, hails from Lincoln, Neb. Bask in the garden just a few minutes longer before the long descent into autumn with his poem.


for J.C.

By Benjamin Vogt

Humidity has set the mood. A stillness

anticipating the brief evening shower, sudden

intoxication leashed to the earth. We wrestle

roots into dry soil before the cloudbank

shadows sunlight, before the dust turns to mud

and our hands become indecipherable

to this knowledge of flesh and bone, beginning

and end of the aching body. How the Penstemon

settles against the wall like a child

whose arms are folded to a pillow beneath

her head. And how the Coral Bells, with heavy

crimson leaves, pierce the garden air

with stalks of white blooms just larger than

a scattering of early season snowfall.

Already they are peaceful, understood.

And after earth washes from the bed’s lip—

the sidewalk dark with water from the hose—

after black containers, shovels, labels

that tell us what will become and for how long,

after fatigue has quickly put it all away,

I realize I have never tasted earth

this deeply, felt its body warmer,

so swiftly placed an afternoon inside of me.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called “The Writer’s Garret” for this newspaper.

From the Oct. 4-10, 2006, issue

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