In the Back Yard Under the Pines


I rarely share my thoughts here, because so many have said them before, much more clearly and beautifully. But here’s one I put to paper yesterday.


I meant to put on sunscreen,

insect repellent,

maybe even a floppy hat—

Isn’t that how you dress

for a garden that needs weeding?

Instead, I went out to take a picture

of a rose,

the first of the season.

Then the mahonia beckoned,

its berries hanging in grape-like clusters,

blue, powdered with white,

another photo op

in the back yard under the pines

in the garden that needed weeding.


I’ll just test the weeds, I thought,

see if recent rains have softened the soil,

find out if they pull easily.

Up came a mat of chickweed,

a clump of wild violets,

tendrils of ivy,

all overstretching their bounds.

And so it went,

tugging and tossing,

freeing the spent daffodils

from one clump of weeds,

then another

and another.


There on my knees,

fingers digging through pine straw,

I breathe the rich smell of dirt,

the fresh scent of leaves.

A surprised millipede skitters past,

disturbed earthworms tunnel deeper.

Chickadees sing their name,

Wrens chirr,

a woodpecker tap-tap-taps overhead.

Wind brushes the pines and elms,

ebbing and flowing like the ocean,

a sea of air



whispering peace—

peace with the rhythms of nature,

peace with the seasons of life and death

in the garden now in late spring bloom

after dying back for winter.


Whispering, too, of my own seasons,

of my own dying to come

some day.

Even though I hear the whisper,

even though I might prepare,

that day will surprise me.


I meant to put on sunscreen,

insect repellent,

a floppy hat—

Isn’t that how you dress for a garden?




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Text and photos © 2021 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.