A cold end to October, the black cames
Of the branches wet with rain, emptied
Of their stained-glass leaves. But this:
To dig down into the earth at evening
And raise them up, their dense flesh
Clodding in the pail, is to have roundness
I can gather against the dying year.
I crouch in the patch in which I knelt,
Months back, unearthing the even rows,
Studding them with the stiff warty eyes
And cored strips of potatoes now grown
Dark and heavy as the rainclouds.
Years ago, before we planted a garden,
I buried one of our house cats back here.
Now for the first time in this century
I think of that small furred body,
Scoured by weather, the steady grey
Pumice of the rains, of how the earth
And its hungers have been at work
Turning out the armature of her bones.
Years ago my wife became the ashes
I’ve saved to mingle with my own.
Now, the afternoon having taken on
November’s ashen skies, I think of how
The bare trees resemble shriven weeds,
The weeds these ribs in my hand—
Small dowels that were enough to house
Nearly everything that mattered.