Poetry Pause: Mulch
August 3, 2010
This is perhaps my favorite poem. Love love love it….
by Linda Hasselstrom
A mulch is a layer of organic matter
used to control weeds,
and improve the fertility of the soil.
You will not find naked soil
in the wilderness.
I started cautiously: newspapers,
hay, a few magazines;
Robert Redford stared up
between the rhubarb and the lettuce.
Then one day, cleaning the shelves,
I found some old love letters.
I’ve always burned them, for the symbolism.
But the ashes, gray and dusty as old passions,
would blow about the yard for days
stinging my eyes,
bitter on my tongue.
So I mulched them:
gave undying love to the tomatoes,
the memory of your gentle hands to the squash.
It seemed to do them good,
and it taught me a whole new style
Now my garden is the best in the wilderness,
and I mulch everything:
bills; check stubs;
dead kittens and baby chicks.
I seldom answer letters; I mulch them
with the plans I made for children of my own,
photographs of places I’ve been
and a husband I had once;
as well as old bouquets
and an occasional unsatisfactory lover.