Garden Yang-yin

Jette welcomes me to her class.
Around the room before-and-after photos
garden books, stacks of old ‘Garden Wise’ to give away.
She tells stories of rescuing roots from roadsides
extols the benefits of manure
the nutrition of seaweed.
She is a woodstove ablaze with garden
enthusiasm. I am warmed by her fire
recall my old yard’s displays of spring
lungwort, astilbe, pinks, daylilies, hydrangea.
There is room in my new garden for pansies.
She sends me home with oregano.
I will buy chives, parsley, basil and mint
make a little herb plot right on my south deck
maybe plant tomatoes too!

I stare at my garden every breakfast
the roses need a trellis
but in this yard that is not really mine
what if it accidentally leaned
on the common-property fence?
The herbs on the deck would probably stain
the flooring. It’s all for the best
I tell myself. In a few weeks I’d likely forget
to water and they’d dry up anyway.
I am far from Jette’s heat and moving
farther every day, find in myself
no more fuel to sustain this former passion.
Her little oregano still sits alone
in its pot on the shady back deck.

© 2010 by Violet Nesdoly


This poem was inspired by a prompt at Poets Online. The challenge was to start with a word or thing or idea, then present two opposing ways of defining or describing the thing. It is published with other poems at Poets Online- Opposing.
If you’re a plant lover, you’ll be relieved to know that I did eventually plant my little oregano – as well as some other things in my garden. But I scrapped the idea of a balcony herb garden, and my roses are still trellis-less.
(The photo, above, is of my old garden.)

2 thoughts on “Garden Yang-yin”

  1. I love this poem, Violet. I came across it through Laura Shovan’s link to Poets Online. I love the characterization of Yetta, how she is right here in all the details, and what happens afterwards (you put it so subtly), and especially the last two lines, which are perfect.


  2. Thank you so much, Toby Speed! I appreciate you coming by — and leaving a comment. (Love those Poets Online prompts by the way – always interesting and provocative).


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