Hard Freeze


It’s too early in the season
but no one told the frost. 
The sky, flat and gray
as an old griddle, promises
no cover. The only clouds 
around are the faint plumes
of your breath as you stoop
through the helpless garden
picking green tomatoes, 
yanking unripe peppers, 
scavenging for baby beans, 
mourning half-grown melons. 
So much is beyond saving. 
Too many living things, still
in their prime, about to perish
from this precious patch 
of earth. If this is the dying 
time, as the forecasts predict, 
you’ve reached the end
of your humble powers.
All you can do now is prepare
yourself for the fall of night: 
tuck your little ones tight 
in their beds, trusting sheets
of cloth to keep them safe
as the killing cold descends.


Play notes: The seed for this poem was a hard freeze in our garden on September 10, 2020. I wrote it the following day, the tragic anniversary of "9-11." I didn't consciously connect the poem with those terrible events but noticed a resonance after finishing.


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