The calendar lies today, declaring it to be winter,
tomorrow’s date will be a new month, still winter.
I’m out anyway, pealing off my sweatshirt--
the first roll of sweat wet and hot down my face,
my shovel quick and sharp through the sod,
pile of dirt and sliced sod growing higher,
the hole deeper, though not so quick--
sweat thinner, wetter, hotter
over muscles yearning for the easy chair by the fire
and a good book on a Sunday afternoon.
Not soon enough, they say, the shovel going deeper, deeper.
Long fat earthworm tries to hide from new light
shovel blade tearing up its black, rainy season wet home--
but just for a bit, just until I can roll the fat root ball
over the edge and into the pit, with my best imitation of
Sumo wrestler grunt.
Clods of dirt, and bits of sod, pushed around the roots
bottom of the new tree is – finally -- flat, solid, until
Tree’s trunk is straight, true, climbing up
into the blue of the winter sky, the warm wind blowing in
from the south, just ahead of the next round of wet,
just over the horizon. Tree, worm, and I smell it, knowing,
knowing it will come, breezy and cold in the night,
when we are dreaming of shovels and dirt, and the new leaves of spring.
More dirt, back into the hole, even the earthworm returns,
writhing at my invasion, finding a hole, slipping in,
away from the light, away from the shovel--
dirt now back in,
rearranged, disrupted by Tree’s roots moving in—even now, I hear them.
Birds fly overhead, circling, circling
waiting for me to leave, waiting for new leaves,
waiting for the next one hundred years of Tree.
--Neal Lemery, 1/2010