Poetry Sunday: The Gardener by Ken Weisner

Thanks to Deb Nance for suggesting the poem for this week. It is a lovely tribute to the gardeners of the earth who bless each humble sprout that grows in their green patch. The poem is dedicated to Kit, the poet's wife, who has evidently inspired his admiration for gardeners. I admit I am not as staunch a gardener as she apparently is, particularly when the temperature gets above 95 degrees, but, like him, I can admire those who are "purified by labor, confessed by its whisperings, connected to its innocence."

The Gardener

by Ken Weisner

For Kit

You get down on your knees in the dark earth—alone
for hours in hot sun, yanking weed roots, staking trellises,
burning your shoulders, swatting gnats; you strain your muscled
midwestern neck and back, callous your pianist’s hands.

You cut roses back so they won’t fruit, rip out and replace
spent annuals. You fill your garden dense with roots and vines.
And when a humble sprout climbs like a worm up out of death,
you are there to bless it, in your green patch, all spring and summer long,

hose like a scepter, a reliquary vessel; you hum
through the dreamy wilderness—no one to judge, absolve,
or be absolved—purified by labor, confessed by its whisperings, connected
to its innocence. So when you heft a woody, brushy tangle, or stumble

inside grimy, spent by earth, I see all the sacraments in place—
and the redeemed world never smelled so sweet.


  1. It is a tribute that most gardeners could claim as their own. I confess that Miriam is the gardener in our family and I merely sit and watch, and lend a helping hand when a little brute force is needed from time to time.

    1. I am the gardener in our family, but these days I'm more of a lazy gardener.

  2. Getting closer to the decade starting with "7" I find myself lazier by the day. It got up to 87 today and there was "no way". Incidentally (small world department) I am a 3rd degree connection with the poet on LinkedIn. (No, I don't know him, it's more like a "friend of a friend of a friend" kind of thing. )

    1. How interesting that you have that connection, no matter how tenuous!

    2. Lovely--"all the sacraments in place" feels right. It has gotten too hot to do much right now, at my age and with heat index 110.

    3. We paid someone to come and do weeding, pruning, and general clean-up yesterday. I felt guilty for about five minutes but then I got over it!

  3. Yeah at 95 I wouldn't garden either! No matter how much I love it.

    1. Yeah, it is hard to maintain your enthusiasm when you are dripping sweat like raindrops falling.

  4. I especially love this line:

    "So when you heft a woody, brushy tangle, or stumble

    inside grimy, spent by earth, I see all the sacraments in place..."

    My sister has the most amazing flower garden this year. I want to see it again this week and take some photos of all the butterflies. We've made a first effort with flowers this year. I hope it will flower more next year.

    1. Many of my flowers have done really well this summer. I think they may have actually been helped by the February freeze.


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