Northwords Now Issue 39

The FREE literary magazine of the North


by Sharon Black

A young man in a greenhouse
brushes down a shelf, a cloud of soil settling
at his feet. Seedlings wait in small black pots.
A tall shrub stands in terracotta.
He wears a blue hat, blue overalls
and a tidy calm expression.

I used to want to be a gardener –
to spend my days pressing life down into soil
and tugging life out of it. Once,
I harvested potatoes, sank my hands
to find the nesting clumps
and raise them to the surface,

each one a brimming golden fontanelle –
we laid them out in rows: they looked like infants
in a nursery, curled and sleeping.
I used to want to love like that. These days
my hands are clean. They busy themselves
knocking on a keyboard: see the rows

of inky shoots and tendrils pushing up
from some mysterious gloom. The gardener’s face
is creased in concentration
as he stacks his trowels and markers, forks and shears,
carries a potted shrub
across the lawn, out of sight.