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Digging Deeper

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   I. The Secret Garden

fooled the squash bugs
by setting young plants
in the center of piles
of old weathered cedar shingles
that i had dumped
one truckload at a time
around the perimeter of the woods
out of sight of the house
yet near enough to garner a hand
of bucketful for kindling
when the woodstove became
december’s focus

the shingle pile had flattened
from firewood attrition and gravity
so only a few layers remained
no wild plants grew up through the shingles
although a couple of hours of sunshine
lit each pile each day
i called it the secret garden
because no one ever walks that way

    II. The Change

the middle vegetable garden
and the south garden (Vegetable River)
have provided entertainment and food

first the june-july drought
scorched and stunted growth
even with frequent watering
then came the late july
and august monsoons
with a 65-70/85-90 mix
almost every day

the plants invigorated
the bugs rebirthed
the grasses skyrocketed
from rock-hard drought
to rainforest jungle
i took a gas-powered weedeater
into the Vegetable River delta
yesterday whacked some high weeds
on the periphery of the melon patch
and uncovered two twenty-pound
crimson sweets in another corner
of the patch a crimson sweet was so ripe
that it had cracked itself open
sixty-five days after
sticking the seed in the ground

i was thrilled
after three years
of growing vines and stunted fruit
i had finally grown
big ripe melons

    III. August

august gardening is by caesar
certainly august
the purple hulls the
yellow-shelled cowpeas
yellow and white okra blossoms
all wash out in the intensity
of <<green>> whelming <<green>>

even on a cool morning or evening
i come in from the search and harvest
having had not the slightest
perception of heat even with
sweat drenching my forehead
double-shirted long-sleeved
against the reborn mosquitoes
and realize only then
how hot my body is
the air is cool
what created the heat?

a perception narrows
that more than heat and humidity
are at play an intensity
a swollen vibration
more than the half-black over-ripe
jalapenos more than the
crisp prongs of okra pod
more than the nutty crunch
of raw cowpeas more than the
fruitful tangle of kentucky wonder and
morning glory smartweed vines
more than white glistening
corn smut blisters
more than the biggest brightest-marked
three-inch grasshoppers and cicadas
that you’ve ever seen
an intensity underlain in
a crush of <<green>> an interplay a
swollen vibration a
chlorophylandering that even
the dogs won’t come near
no snakes no skinks no lizards
too strong for spiders

Phillip Carroll Morgan, “Digging Deeper” from The Fork-in-the-Road Indian Poetry Store. Copyright © 2006 by Phillip Carroll Morgan. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.
Source: The Fork-in-the-Road Indian Poetry Store (Salt Publishing, 2006)
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Digging Deeper

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  • A Choctaw/Chickasaw poet, Phillip Carroll Morgan earned a PhD in Native American literature from the University of Oklahoma. He writes for Chickasaw Press, part of the Chickasaw Nation Division of History and Culture.
    Morgan’s poetry engages his tribal ancestry and its mythology. His first poetry collection, The Fork-in-the-Road Indian Poetry Store (2006), won the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award.
    Morgan is also the author of the history books Chickasaw Renaissance (2010) and Who Shall Gainsay Our Decision? Choctaw Literary Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century (2011) and a contributor to Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective (2008).
    He lives on his family’s farm in the Chickasaw Nation, in Oklahoma.

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