In Defense of Our Overgrown Garden

By Matthea Harvey b. 1973 Matthea Harvey
Last night the apple trees shook and gave each lettuce a heart
Six hard red apples broke through the greenhouse glass and
Landed in the middle of those ever-so-slightly green leaves
That seem no mix of seeds and soil but of pastels and light and
Chalk x’s mark our oaks that are supposed to be cut down   
I’ve seen the neighbors frown when they look over the fence
And see our espalier pear trees bowing out of shape I did like that
They looked like candelabras against the wall but what’s the sense
In swooning over pruning I said as much to Mrs. Jones and I swear
She threw her cane at me and walked off down the street without
It has always puzzled me that people coo over bonsai trees when
You can squint your eyes and shrink anything without much of   
A struggle ensued with some starlings and the strawberry nets
So after untangling the two I took the nets off and watched birds
With red beaks fly by all morning at the window I reread your letter
About how the castles you flew over made crenellated shadows on   
The water in the rainbarrel has overflowed and made a small swamp
I think the potatoes might turn out slightly damp don’t worry
If there is no fog on the day you come home I will build a bonfire
So the smoke will make the cedars look the way you like them
To close I’m sorry there won’t be any salad and I love you

“In Defense of Our Overgrown Garden” from Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form. © 2000 by Matthea Harvey. Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books.

Source: Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books, 2000)

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Poet Matthea Harvey b. 1973

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Relationships, Love, Activities, Gardening, Nature, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Matthea  Harvey

Biography

Matthea Harvey was born in Germany, spent her childhood in England, and moved to Milwaukee with her family when she was eight years old. She attended Harvard as an undergraduate and the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Iowa. Her collections of poems include Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (2000), Sad Little Breathing Machine (2004), Modern Life (2007), Of Lamb (2011), and If the Tabloids . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Activities, Gardening, Nature, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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