Sunday, March 26, 2006

Keep and Give Away

         What do I know of man's destiny?
         I could tell you more about radishes.

                                 — Samuel Beckett

With a bushel basket in hand
he’s the tally of my ripest desires,

more than the sum of his summer
crops, perfect and plentiful as they are—

even counting Early Contenders
and Silver Queen. Burpless

cucumbers, Kentucky Wonders, too.
Throw in the fruit to sweeten

the numbers: blackberries and figs
piled in pyramids or weighed

in pecks. And don’t forget
the peppers (red, yellow, green),

divided into keep and give away.
Dinner plates—heaped with leafiness,

tubers, and pods—heavy
with the haul and roots of his labor.

Now he’s shelling peas in his lap
and I sit across the room, listening

to the ping, ping. He’s more
than the sum, I cannot count the ways,

and despite a constant reckoning
of work and luck, numbers fail me

in this long, hot growing season.

    first published in The Southern Review
    rptd on Verse Daily
    rptd in A Millennial Sampler of South Carolina Poetry


Spencer said...

I just read Hat of Many Goldfinches on Verse Daily. What a beautiful poem! I can't wait to read the rest of Keep and Give Away.
Blog on!

Susan Meyers said...

Thanks, Spencer!

Spencer said...

When will the book be available for purchase? And, is Amazon the only way to get it, or are there others?

Carol Peters said...

Spencer, you can buy it from University of South Carolina Press -- there's a link to it on Susan's blog. It should also be purchasable from Amazon soon, maybe June 1st.

Spencer said...

Thank you, Carol!