Literary Hook: A poem perfect for summer gardening season

August 31, 2011

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

This is the time of summer for fruition and harvest. Gardens are blooming in their fullest. Since Rockford is a city of gardens, it seemed to me a garden poem might be appropriate this time of year.

I have been a passionate gardener for a couple of decades now. Like most gardeners, the process has been trial and error. Eventually, I began to understand how and why some plants flourish and others don’t, even if I follow directions for their care.

The garden is a place of magic, mystique, mystery and spiritual significance. Genesis begins with a garden paradise. St. Francis cultivated a garden with birds. Some of us have the collective notion that, as Joni Mitchell once sang, “And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” People go on garden pilgrimages near and far.

Now, as the green movement gains momentum, more people try to care for the earth and the garden. All over Rockford, you see delightful gardens of every sort. People have reached a critical mass in this country regarding stewardship of the earth. Though I wrote this sonnet several years ago, when I looked at it today, I thought it applied to our current “green” state of affairs. It is a spiritual poem, as well as a green poem. I hope it works on several levels, and that you might bring some experience to the poem. Despite what well-meaning English teachers may have taught you, it is OK to interpret the poem as you wish. Art, after all, is a shared experience.

Wisdom’s Wild Fruition …

Because the price of wisdom is so high …

Like trumpet vines in wild fruition,

Wisdom tangles and spirals towards the sky

And cannot be controlled. Come, completion

Of roots, bulbs, and seeds. Flowers and trees

Become. Deep within the soil grow.

Essence of red roses in summer’s breeze.

Yet inward, wisdom to the rich river

Goes, nourished by the inland sea’s fresh flow.

Then the receiver becomes the giver.

The price of wisdom is so high because

Paradise is a garden returned to

Bruised, where only mercy and nature’s laws

Inform the open heart. Red nose renew.

Christine Swanberg has published about 300 poems in 70 journals and anthologies. Her books include Who Walks Among the Trees with Charity (Wind Publishing, Kentucky), The Red Lacquer Room (Chiron Publishing, Kansas), The Tenderness of Memory (Plainview Press, Texas), Slow Miracle (Lakeshore Publishing, Illinois), Invisible String (Erie St., Illinois), Bread Upon the Waters (Windfall, Wisconsin) and Tonight on this Late Road (Erie St., Ill.).

From the Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2011, issue

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