Lyrical Somerville – December 6

On December 6, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times


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Our poet this week is Carla Schwartz. Carla has a new collection out, Intimacy with the Wind. Here is what noted poet Fred Marchant wrote of the book: “Living on a solar-powered houseboat as it moves up and down Lake Champlain is bound to make one intimate with the wind – its vagaries, energies, and comforts alike. But in Carla Schwartz’s new collection of poems, there are also the winds that pass over and through the inner landscapes. There are, for instance, the winds that bring us together in love, and the winds that draw us apart in grief. Also, there is the chill wind of the harm that some may do to others, and there are the winds of determined resilience, the kind that carry the survivor to the shore. These finely crafted poems give us this poet’s vivid sense of being in the world, as if we are with her breathing in what life has to offer, a good wind overhead, like a blessing.” — Fred Marchant, author of Said Not Said (Graywolf Press, 2017).

Carla Schwartz

Asparagus

 

A few minutes after hanging up, my father calls back to tell me

three new asparagus are coming up.

 

I had started the patch from seed at my parents’ house, years ago.

 

Now, my father calls me every time a spear pokes through. With each call,

I am reminded of my shortcomings and feel inept — I’m not sure why.

 

The soil in that corner of their yard is rich. The crop had barely started to yield

when I moved to a land that forbids overwintering.

 

I tried, but the transplants failed in Florida.

 

When I moved back north, I tried to transplant again. This time, the original patch

was so dug in, I could not hack off enough root for the plant to take.

 

Or maybe it didn’t stand a chance with woodchucks and voles.

 

I still plan to dig up some more asparagus plants,

the next time I visit my father.

 

And here, the generations are:

 

Water and soil, and seed, not much bigger than coriander, but smooth as a bearing.

Years and years of waiting, watching, and missing the ones that race to flower and reseed.

 

The key is to catch the plant when it’s young,

before it really roots in.

 

Now, my father gets mature spears. When he finds one just three inches tall,

he gambles on the optimal time to pick. If he waits too long, he says it goes to seed.

 

What to do with this girl?

 

I learned to grow raspberries, but not to build fences.

I once battled one groundhog with a shovel, in a world full of groundhogs.

 

I dreamt my mother helped me dig up some of the plants, and instead of asparagus,

she rose from the ground, full, fleshy, green.

 

— Carla Schwartz

 

The poem Asparagus first appeared in The Mom Egg, Volume 15, 2017, and also appears in Intimacy with the Wind, Finishing Line Press, 2017.

 

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To have your work considered for the Lyrical send it to:
Doug Holder, 25 School St.; Somerville, MA 02143
dougholder@post.harvard.edu

 

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