they come into the old hardware store

aged backs bent forward at the shoulders

tottering feet shuffling on the cement floor

hello there!! how are you today?”

they say far too loudly

they’ve already explained that today

they’ll need 5 tomato, 2 squash, and

2 watermelon plants before anybody

can tell them how they are today


they gather up their adolescent plants

and head back to their homes

probably a small, brick, ranch house

somewhere way out in the sticks

no air conditioning turned on yet

because they get so cold so easily


they may let the plants sit until tomorrow

soaking them or just letting them rest

inside to avoid the heavy winds that set in

a few days ago and won’t seem to move on

not long after sunrise, they’ll be out there

in their small tilled-up garden spot

carefully preparing the holes for the plants

covering, watering, fertilizing


the weeks of tending, weeding, nurturing

is it about the vegetables or fruit

or is it one last chance to raise something

to care for it, to give it life, to see it mature

when the season ends for these plants the old men

vow “if I’m living next year I probably

won’t plant so many tomatoes.”


My Facebook PageMy Twitter Account


About John White

I've written off and on my entire life. It took years for me to finally take putting words together seriously. Now it's not, nor does it ever feel, like work. Writing daily has become habitual. No day is complete without words having appeared on the page.

Posted on February 25, 2016, in Poetry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. John, this really is one for my heart. It is about raising something, nurturing and caring.
    Thank you.

  2. Awww, this reminds me of a good friend. Thanks for sharing! (With a slight revision, you’ve got a haiku.) 🙂

  3. Sounds like my parents in their twilight years, the only dirrerence being they lived far out in the country (where I was raised) and grew a humongous garden. Good memories. 🙂

  4. I love this poem. My grandmother was a poet who published a great deal of her work in a Mid-western farm magazine called “The Capers Weekly”. It was filled with poems and short stories about simple, country life, and gardening was a favorite subject. Some of these poems were published as a collection, including some by my grandmother, in a book called Heart Songs. A favorite line from one of those poems is “There’s no cure for winter paunches, Like getting down on gardening haunches.” Tending the earth, gardening is central to basic human purpose and an activity so good for our health. It very well may be the reason your old man gardener lived to be an old man. A very nice poem to read on this February morning when this old woman is dreaming of spring and my beloved garden.

  5. this is lovely.

    “‘Neither need you tell me,’ said Candide, ‘that we must take care of our garden.’”

  6. Farmers – people who care for the weather as much as they do for their plants.:)

  7. Beautiful, reminds me of my grandparents.

  8. “…or is it one last chance to raise something

    to care for it, to give it life, to see it mature…”

    I wonder if they feel sad when they think of the possibility they won’t be able to see the little things grow.

    • Thank you, Therese! 🙂 I’m sure that’s a thought or at least enough to make them feel sad that they won’t see it and it might be part of the attraction to growing something each year – seeing it grow and mature.

  9. You described me fairly well, John. My garden is a very important part of my life as the years have their way with my physical attributes. All of us make a variation of your last line, “if I’m living next year I probably won’t plant so many….” The planning for the next season helps all of us make it through the present one….:)

  10. Very well observed. Many layered – simply told. Well done. Sally

  11. Now that sure is quite a ‘Cause’ 🙂

  12. Love this post. We can’t plant outdoors just yet because we live in snow country. We look through catalogs of beautiful seed photos which hold promise for this year’s garden.

  13. John, I really loved reading this. My daddy passed down the joy of working the dirt, and it is ingrained in my spirit. I can’t wait to get my fingers in it!! (PS I think it’s pretty cool that you have all ages of readers!)

    • Thank you! 🙂 I’ve learned a lot from my dad as well and I will probably wind up working the soil one day on my own. Of course, now I’m helping him when I can especially with running the bill tiller. It’s good to be out there with him and then watching everything grow and mature.

      Absolutely! I’m amazed at the ages of my readers and how diverse the group is. I’m thankful daily to see such a wide range of people coming by. 🙂

  14. Morgan Monique Byers

    I love this 🙂

  15. As a gardener I can relate to this and have already been out in my gardens…

  16. I love the simple storytelling that surprises you with sweet truth in the last bite. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: