Late Summer Garden

Late Summer Garden
by Shannon R. Wooden


When I heard myself begging the sugar sweet tomatoes,
come on, just another small handful, or two, we’re almost out of time,
something came over me, and I started ripping up the bastards by the roots.
Scraggly no matter what I’d done, brown starting at the ground
and climbing up to sparse fruit, forever splitting in my hands.
Really, they didn’t even taste that good this year—
no effervescent burst of joy like a grape in Keats’s dainty mouth
or maybe I just need more now to get off like that,
the adieus having collected in the doorway.
The swiss chard came up too—I don’t know what I was thinking—
still in my skirt and heels from work—and all the summer flowers,
grown gangly like a bunch of adolescent girls.
Maybe I didn’t water enough—or too much?—who knows.
Maybe none of us could have survived this summer.
The kale stays: huge, stubborn, and bitter, you I will share
with the birds, or worms, or whomever pays my penance to the earth.
I know, I know, but as long as we’re all a great cliché:
tomorrow, a cold weather crop. I think, broccoli. 

***

Shannon R. Wooden is a Professor of English at Missouri State University, where she teaches a wide variety of courses, from the Romantic/Victorian/20th century survey, to Critical Approaches to Literature, to upper-level courses in eighteenth and nineteenth century lit, as well as Introduction to Literature and Creative Writing: Fiction. Her latest book is Pixar's Boy Stories: Masculinity in a Postmodern Age (Rowman & Littlefield 2016).