Ambitious Agriculturalist

Do anything, but let it produce joy.

Walt Whitman

the tomato farmer’s wife
waits for seed babies
in Mariachi windows
rad warmed roots
thinned     she mourns
the shed ones

she sets up cold frames near crocus
to harden off seedlings for planting
never before the Queen’s birthday
less risk instilling

dirt hum smells ripe
happy worms patrol particulate soil
copious partners in toil romancing

dog day heat     she sits in shed shade
headscarf     sweat-splattered
silky water

father of the past bends like long grass
pinches suckers     worn woolen trousers
strident ink scent     banded arms     white shirt

husband sings dusky music
offers the first Sweet William
petards water her mouth
she saves the seeds

the tomato farmer’s life
sinful with fleshy days
leaves and yellow flowers
jessed to prickly stems
shiny green globes

late May frost (unfolding old sheets)
he covers them
marching milk cartons
like pencil straight lines

generations of hoverers
ancestral lines longer than green rows
guard against     broad mite     hornworm
northern root knot     fusarium wilt
blight and dodder

he cajoles the innocents
tete a tete     with grape clusters
Tosca   for romas
Bono     to beefsteaks
language they understand

in evening’s skin     slices
and Walt Whitman