Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Gardener's Friend

Sweat filmed my spectacles as I forked the soil
ready for vegetables to sow from packs of seed

wiping the glasses on my shirt and replacing them, I saw
a robin on the earth looking around, taking a step,
pecking in mimicry

a robin at the apex of a lineage of robins,
like me in that, and also that we both
were on a mission to find sustenance from the earth
like all that grew around us

I could have pitied the robin
for what it was missing out on:
that it would never have a bank account,
hopefully full of money,
or dress up for a party or go to a concert
or visit an art gallery
or send its fellows to that round white thing
that hangs in the branches of the night sky

but I could see it didn't pity or envy me
for if I left off working the wild weeds would come back
and a wilderness would be no good for me
but would make no difference to a robin

it darted its eye from me down to what it was there for
and all was right about its simplicity

I hefted my fork again, digging with vigour in each downward push,
a new rhythm in each turning of the tines
and what their pecking brought from the soil

thinking as a robin might
of when I'm through
with this back-breaking ground-breaking toil
and return to rest
in the nest
up to


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