Tristan Harward

Winter is over and I find it:
My herb pot, overgrown, 
Neglected for a season.
I had good reasons I suppose:
Everything was changing,
All of it more important
and the non-priorities, well.
They're just plants, and
They sort of like overwintering
In a state of natural disarray.
Call it hibernation. Stasis.
They're fine, is the point.

But it's spring now.
Rain all week has made them sit
In a pool of their own soil tea.
They probably do not enjoy this,
And I empty it. Then I notice
Brown tangles and crisp leaves—
Whole plants half-dead
Hanging by thin threads.
Thyme, rosemary, oh the sage—
The sage is in trouble. Somehow
It's grown long spindly stems
With tiny leaves. Most have fallen
Over themselves, their supports
Not able to hold up their height.
It did not plan for this.

I know what I have to do: 
Grab the trimmers.

Cutting back all the brown,
There's just more under it
And I cut that too, all the way down
To bare stems in some places
And in the worst cases there's just
A stump of a plant left.
I make mistakes: perfectly fine stems
Cut in by accident. Damn.
But it's done, and you can't go back.
It doesn't work that way.

Funny thing: I've done this before.
I know, by cutting out the shit,
The good has a chance to grow in—
Fuller, healthier, with air and light.
I'm not even scared: it's predictable.
This works every time.
I just keep going, cutting, trimming,
Pulling out the dried up detritus and
Grooming what's left.

When I know I'm done (and I know),
Everything looks smaller,
And somehow larger and fuller.
An unkempt uncertainty
Replaced by condensed possibility.

It's easy to imagine what will happen:
The next two months of spring sun
Will do to these plants what it does
To all the plants of New England:
Set them free in a desperate rush
To grow and live while they can
Before the next winter descends.

Life is more resilient than you think.
April 27th, 2017