Guest Poet Mark T. Curry

A family garden

Come a summer afternoon, we'd drive county
roads dug beside miles of ripening corn fields
to Father's old house, where the grandparents
would be standing by the door to welcome us

with buckets and gloves. On our hike to the
garden, flying insects arched entrances and
exits through the high grass, the steel buckets
swung a dull cadence from fat capsules of grain

atop dusty blades, and the grownups recited
the nature and timing of vegetables in a folksy
language. Among the weeded rows, tomatoes
burst from their vines, firm beans fit the grooves

of our hands, and carrots shrugged clean from
the earth. Later, in the kitchen, we shared a
feast that defied labels, and the women scooped
fresh bits of summer into Ball jars for savoring

in winter. Then Gilbert died, and Ruth grew
into a small, frail woman, and her kids sold the
house and land to pay for her keep at Franklin
Methodist Home. These days, when August is

the pressure of sunlight against the cotton on
my back and runs hot fingers of sweat through
my scalp, I drive our four boys down the interstate
and slow past Grampa's old house, where grass

has covered the mounds of a garden left untended,
and we drive on, to a country with one season,
on a continent beyond the language of my youth.

March, 1998

Mark T. Curry's Questions:

1. I'm told Poems featuring nature are definitely not in.I've read that every nature poem has already been written. Is this true? Have you read this poem, or one similar, before?

2. What do you like about this poem? How can I improve it? The part at the end is true, we live in a different country now than where I grew up. I'm pleased with the ending, but what does it mean to you?

3. Does the part about the bucket making a cadence on the grains atop the grass stems make sense to you?

Correspond with Mark T. Curry at
with your ideas about this poem.

The Albany Poetry Workshop